Upton downs Clements again: Incumbent continues 6th District congressional rein

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Rep. Fred Upton thanks his supporters after winning re-election during an election night party Tuesday night at The Inn at Harbor Shores. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — There was no confetti or balloons that rained down from the ceiling, but Fred Upton celebrated the only way he knew how.

In the moments after the Republican incumbent discovered he would serve his 16th consecutive term as the 6th District congressional representative, Upton began pulling several people up on stage next to him in thanks.

Upton, R-St. Joseph, received an overwhelming amount of the vote Tuesday night to overtake Democratic challenger Paul Clements for a second time. It was unclear what percentage Clements received among the six counties that make up the 6th District, as districts were still reporting past midnight. However, there was a large enough margin for the Associated Press to call the race in favor of Upton by 10:30 p.m.

“When you have a victory of margin like this, you have to thank the voters,” Upton said to a round of applause. At one point in the night, Upton was leading by more than 30 points. “We’re going to listen, we’re going to react, and we’re going to help people in very of our district to improve their quality of life.”

With hundreds of people packing a conference room on the second floor of the Inn at Harbor Shores, Upton and his wife, Amey, made their way onto the room’s platform as a live band played the theme song of “Ghostbusters.” The 63-year-old gave thanks for begin given another two-year term in Congress.

Upton, who has become known for his bipartisan efforts, told his constituents that gathered at his general election party that he will continue to work with both parties.

He shared the room with other candidates in contention, which included Kim LaSata and Dave Pagel. After Upton brought his support staff on stage for recognition – which seemed like half the room – the congressman addressed the presidential race that continued to unfold.

“This really does set the stage for what we need to do,” Upton said moments after recognizing the Chicago Cubs’ World Series performance. “We will have a new president, but our country is in dire need of some leadership. There’s a reason 70 percent of Americans feel we’re on the wrong track.”

The St. Joseph native chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but is slated to lose that chairmanship even if the GOP retains its House majority. Projections indicated the GOP will hold the House.

The congressman joined the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 1991. He competed against three others for chairman six years ago and was unopposed as chair his last two terms. When Upton was named chair, he became the first major committee chairman to come from Southwest Michigan.

Further east in Kalamazoo, Clements gave his congratulations to Upton.

Clements, a Western Michigan University professor who teaches political science and national economic development, previously ran against Upton in 2014. Clements previously collected 40 percent of the vote to Upton’s 56 two years ago.

The last place he stopped was at WMU, where he spoke to students.

“I’m really grateful to all the volunteers and am disappointed in the results,” Clements said. “I visited all six counties today and it felt great to shake a lot of hands. I love my job as a professor and am delighted to continue teaching and doing research. But I’ve got to congratulate Congressman Upton. He won fair and square.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 9, 2016)

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