In a suburban Detroit congressional district that leans Democratic, Andy Levin is poised to replace his father in the U.S. House despite a Republican challenge.

First-time GOP candidate Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights is hoping to get support from the Macomb County portion of the 9th Congressional District, a county where President Donald Trump won big in 2016. The number of Republicans who voted in the August primary was significantly higher than in previous years.

But most of the district voters are in Oakland County, where Democrat Levin of Bloomfield Township and retiring U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, live. But Democrat Hillary Clinton won the 9th District in 2016 by 7.7 percentage points over Trump, and Levin is hoping to take advantage of a re-energized Democratic Party base.

"It's just plain old enthusiasm; I feel like it's through the roof," he said.

But Stearns is confident as well.

"Our current administration has more people motivated to step up," she said, referring to Trump. 

The bizarrely shaped district includes Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, St.Clair Shores, Warren and Sterling Heights. 

Levin defeated a tougher-than-expected opponent in the primary in former state Rep. Ellen Lipton, who raised slightly more money. Stearns ran unopposed.

As of Oct. 17, Levin had raised $910,000 to Stearns' $77,000, according to the most recent federal records. 

Levin has embraced U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan as a way to extend health care coverage to all Americans. His television ads have highlighted paying bills to help treat Crohn's disease of two of his children, including one for $18,000 that is a reminder of the importance of having affordable health care.

"I think there's been a surge, especially among women voters, who are motivated about the Affordable Care Act, about the idea that pre-existing medical conditions could mean not being able to get insurance," Levin said. 

Stearns, who is an owner of a small business and has dealt with heath insurance for 25 years,  is more than happy to take on Levin about health care.

"The changes in health care just haven't worked and it has meant more taxes for small businesses," she said in reference to the Affordable Care Act.

"One of the results is that small businesses have been forced to cut hours of workers so that those businesses don't get stuck with the taxes. It hasn't helped either the business or the workers," she said.

Stearns supports Trump's  anti-illegal immigration tone that he has amped up in the final days of the campaign. 

She also expressed some support for potentially helping U.S.-born and raised children of undocumented immigrants in finding a path for citizenship depending on individual cases.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN 



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