Fred Upton's campaign claims victory over Matt Longjohn for the U.S. House seat
Fred Upton's campaign claimed victory over Matt Longjohn for the 6th District U.S. House of Representatives seat as Tuesday turned to Wednesday, in what remains a very close race.
The Associated Press called the race for Upton about 12:45 a.m., reporting the the incumbent congressman secured the race by a slim margin. As of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Upton had 50 percent of the vote compared to Longjohn's 46 percent, with 87 percent of precincts reporting in unofficial totals.
Independent Stephen Young was an undeniable factor in the race, garnering 4 percent of votes and hindering Longjohn's chances.
Hoping to pull off an upset
Democrat Matt Longjohn was hoping to pull off an upset Tuesday, and beat U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, who was seeking his 17th term.
The Democratic challenger was facing a 32-year Republican incumbent and was working hard for votes even on Election Day.
For weeks, Michigan's 6th District Congressional race was dominated by attack ads on both sides.
Longjohn faced accusations by Upton of misleading voters with his use of a medical degree in his campaign ads. The newcomer and Portage native is a former YMCA health officer. He said voters are ready for new leadership in the 6th District.
Upton has never been so close to losing a general election. Since the mid-1980s, he has beat his Democratic opponents with sound margins.
Longjohn said that while Upton is expected to cruise to victory, he too has a lot of support.
"We have been 100 percent committed to defeating Fred Upton today, going back to basically June of 2017,” Longjohn said. “So, this is just the realization of all that hard work."
Many of the voters headed into the polls had not been born when Upton was first elected to Congress in 1986.
While his opponent said now is the time for change, Upton said that now more than ever Michigan and the country need a steady hand.
Upton has name recognition and deeper pockets with more campaign dollars on his side. Two things that can go a long way with voters who don't do a lot of research and make a decision in the ballot box.
Seeking his 17th term, Upton said what made this election so different than previous years is all the negativity. He used the word poisonous referring to the attack ads created by both sides in this race.
In the final sprint of a long campaign, Upton spent Election Day out in the wet cold trying to get as much last-minute support as he could.
“You know for me it's experience,” Upton said. “We have a good network of getting things done working with both sides of the aisle on you name the issue, from immigration to the budget, to the Great Lakes. And I want to continue to do that, which is why I'm running for re-election so get to the polls before 8 o'clock.”