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Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:21 a.m.

Pam Byrnes announces she will run against Tim Walberg for Congress

By Ryan J. Stanton

This story has been updated with comment from Walberg's communications director.

Former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, a Democrat from Washtenaw County's Lyndon Township, announced Thursday she's running for Congress to help fix a "broken system" in Washington.

Byrnes is seeking the 7th District seat held by Tim Walberg, a Republican from Tipton who unseated Democrat Mark Schauer in 2010 to regain the seat.


Pam Byrnes


Tim Walberg

Walberg held the seat in 2007 and 2008 before losing to Schauer in November 2008.

Byrnes will take her shot at unseating Walberg in 2014.

"Washington is broken and Tim Walberg is part of the problem. He puts special interests and corporations ahead of middle-class Michigan families," Byrnes said in a statement.

"I have a track record of working across the aisle to get things done and create opportunities to help middle-class families thrive."

Byrnes pointed to her past work on a cottage food bill to help local farmers and small entrepreneurs, and legislation to cut her own pay and end lifetime healthcare for state lawmakers.

In response to Byrnes' announcement, Sarah Kuziomko, a spokeswoman for Walberg, released a written statement.

"Congressman Walberg is focused on building a healthy economy and working with colleagues to help hardworking taxpayers by making government live within its means, improving education and workforce training, stopping the IRS from abusing citizens, and repealing the government takeover of health care that is raising costs and hurting families," Kuziomko said.

Byrnes lost to Ann Arbor Democrat Rebekah Warren when she ran for state Senate in 2010. Byrnes then headed to China in 2011, taking a position as executive director of the University of Michigan’s joint institute with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Byrnes told she's back from China now.

Byrnes said having a broken system in Washington means middle-class families are falling behind, and politicians still are giving tax breaks to corporations that ship American jobs out of the country while making it more expensive for children to get a good education.

"I believe the economic and educational needs of the middle-class should come before special interests and big corporations," she said.

Byrnes, a lawyer and small business owner, lives on a small farm outside of Chelsea with her husband, Kent Brown. She is the former director of Washtenaw County Friend of the Court.

In her more recent role in China, she oversaw a program that provides University of Michigan students and faculty a platform to engage in engineering education and research in an international setting, often collaborating with Michigan businesses, such as General Motors and TRW.

Walberg was a pastor for nearly 10 years. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1983 and served until 1999. As an elected official, he has been a voice for less government spending, lower taxes, fewer regulations and calls himself a defender of traditional values.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I've known Pam for a long time and her energy and understanding of issues is impressive. A couple of things not mentioned here: Pam was a major player in moving part of Western Washtenaw County into Democratic ranks. She helped organize the Western Washtenaw Democrats and for years led her pet donkeys in Fourth of July parades (Chelsea, I think), and also hosted local Dems at her farm for patriotic holidays. She served on the Washtenaw County Road Commission (the first woman ever to do so, and perhaps the only) before being elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. While in the House, one of her concentrations was transportation. As chair of the Transportation Committee (the House had a Democratic majority at the time), she was instrumental in the task force report on the state of transportation in Michigan called "TF2" One of the consequences of having a Republican majority in Congress is that transportation funding has been blocked. The State of Michigan has also failed to resolve this important issue. Pam's past experience and knowledge of transportation could be very important to us in the future Congress.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

This used to be a swing district, until the GOP gerrymandered it by removing the Democratic leaning areas in Battle Creek, which also removed Joe Schwartz, the moderate Republican who used to occupy this seat. Crackpots like Walberg are what we get in the partisan districts, are largely responsible for the gridlock in Washington, and are a strong argument for nonpartisan redistricting.

Lou Perry

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

Challenging Walberg is significant for areas west of Ann Arbor and for Democrats all over changing the balance of power in congress. The 7th District does not include Ann Arbor. Most of the 7th Michigan district is quite conservative. Mark Schauer came into office on the coattails of President Obama beating Walberg but couldn't get re-elected with Walberg wining the seat again. Pam is a strong candidate, but she'll be tabbed as an Ann Arborite and that will be a tough sell in places like Battle Creek. A key is the new leadership of Michigan's Democratic Party and if they will attack forcefully.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

She was rewarded by UM for her service to the University on the education committee by giving her a largely ceremonial position, paid for by China. I couldn't even find out how much she was paid because the University said that she was not employed by UM but rather by China. Add that to the fact that Governor Snyder owns a company in China (Neophotonics) and you have to wonder whether we are being governed from Beijing.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

I have met and spoken to Walberg. He struck me, to be totally honest, as not even of average intelligence. Surely Michigan deserves someone better than dull, Tea Party evangelist for more guns, teaching creationism in public schools, and advocating for invasive medical practices on women without their consent.

Kenneth Koons

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

Mi. has so many Dems , ala the bankrupt Detroit, and Jane thinks adding one more liberal Dem will fix the problems that the liberal Dems caused??????Oh please. Voters need to weed out as many liberals as they can to fix America. We do not need another taxer, big spender, pro-infanticide, big govt. Dem leftist in the House, US Senate or any local or state office. Blue state Dems are killing America and its willing accomplices, the MSM, with their PC baloney are aiding in those murders of our heritage, history and values.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

Pro infanticide? Really? Hate to break it to you, Zygotes aren't "babies"


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

"Murders of our heritage, history, and values." In other words, we're all going to Hell unless we put an extra twenty in the plate and vote Republican (and bankrupt the country by giving sweetheart deals to corrupt defense contractors and tax breaks to the Koch brothers).


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Excellent. You go, girl!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

I looked at's database on who is "donating" to Michigan's House delegation, and found donation after donation from Matty Moroun and his family to Tim Walberg.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

I doubt many people on either end of the spectrum will miss the Kilpatricks.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

George Soros at least was attached to an idea that he genuinely believed in- opposition to the Iraq War. Billionaires like Matty Moroun, whose main issue is to maintain his market share with the bridge, and Charles and David Koch, who don't want to spend money on pollution controls, are simply out there for their own bottom line.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

the biggest recipient of Moroun-related cash has been Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from the Jackson area, who serves on the House Homeland Security committee. Walberg got $82,700 since the 2008 cycle from Moroun, his family and associates. The second largest recipient was former Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, with $78,700.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

But, but, but... George Soros!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Finally, someone to challenge one of the most ineffective, backwards, hate mongering failures in the House. Walberg is not only an image of what is wrong with the once respectable Republican party, but why Michigan is still behind the rest of the country. His warped beliefs and set of values have attacked every aspects of life including civil liberties, environment and basic human compassion. Good Luck Pam!!

Honest Abe

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

I hope Pam Byrnes is aware that Jack will ALWAYS be watching her. *points index and middle fingers at own eyes, then points them at Pam**

you can't handle the truth

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

she's running for Congress to help fix a "broken system" in Washington I've been hearing this my entire lifetime from politicians. Can't one of these spinster people come up with a better line???

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Walberg, the anti-government 'tea' party puppet who hates taxes. Oh, but is more than happy to get his free health care for life benefit for serving a hanful of years in the Michigan House. And gets his $50K a year for life 'pension' for those same a few years of 'service'. He's a phony who pockets our tax dollars while pretending to care about government expenditures and waste.. He's a hypocrite.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Yawn.......... Slow news day!:)


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Huh? A major-party candidate declares for a Congressional seat - that is not news? What is your problem?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Go Pam! Walberg is an embarassment, and his district is one of the worst examples of gerrymandering in MI. politics, so good luck! I know I'll be voting for Byrnes.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

I look forward to the day that we put the preacher, Tim Walberg, out to pasture


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Tim Walberg has the brass to take a stand against the tax and spend DC mentality. Refreshing to have a principled Congressman. Byrnes is a Statist cut from the cloth of Debbie "Do Nothing" Stabbenow. She never saw a social program she didn't like. With the redrawing of the 7th District Walberg will win by a handsome margin and continue his fight against generational theft!


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Federal tax burdens are still historically low. Walberg never met a corporate welfare program or defense boondoggle he didn't like.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

"Tim Walberg has the brass to take a stand against the tax and spend DC mentality. Refreshing to have a principled Congressman." Spare me! He in anti-health care for everyone else but gets his free health care for life from the State of Michigan for a few years as a political hack. AND he's against sociial security but gets a 50 thousand a year sweetheart pension he and other political hacks in Lansing voted for themselves...Principled my foot. Just another political scam artist.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Byrnes is a "statist" ? Search that on google... zero hits. Perhaps you meant sadist, as in someone who enjoys inflicting pain upon themselves or others? And she must be one, because she likes social programs that... help people?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

"With the redrawing of the 7th District" Oh you mean the Gerrymandering that the GOP like to do? The only way they have a hope of winning!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

He also takes a stand against a woman's right to choose, marriage equality, public education. That is someone we do NOT need in power. Lastly, he is a big "birther" conspiracy theorist. No thanks, that's the kind of nut jobs we need to VOTE OUT

David Cahill

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Byrnes has a good chance, with a combination of unpopular incumbents (Walberg and Snyder) working in her favor.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

What a choice we voters will have?! Why can't our district have a Justin Amash ?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

I don't agree with Mr. Ingersoll's position on many matters, but on this I do. Justin Amash is the type of individual we want in government. He's dedicated to our country and her citizens, not his party or the money handlers.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

He would be the lesser of evil within the Tea Party. But a Tea Party obstructionist none the less


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Thursday she's running for Congress to help fix a "broken system" in Washington. At least she honest about it being broken, she can't blame Bush anymore so I guess it must be the current administration.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Yeah, WALKER, it must be Obama that is preventing the Senate from passing bills. It must be Obama that is forcing the House to vote 38 times on Obamacare. It must be Obama that has put forth a record number of filibusters in the Senate. You need better sources of information.

peg dash fab

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

The current administration != Congress, duh.

Top Cat

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Glad to hear it. Tim is now a shoe in for re-election! Obama has done enough damage to our economy and keeping the GOP in control of the House is the only way to slow him down.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

What damage? The economy is the best it's been in quite a few years.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

unemployment down 3%. Stock market at or above 15,000. Corporate profits soaring. Oil production good. deficit dropping. GM and Ford doing good. Gosh darn that Obama! The same people that are saying the economy is bad are the people that said in 2008 that we had a "mental recession".


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

The House is the least productive House of Representatives in US History for both sessions, since 2010 when Republicans took over. Speaker Boehner is the least productive Speaker in US History. Their worst in history approval ratings are the result.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

So when you see all the articles lately about improving economic indicators after Bush took us all off the cliff, do you close your eyes? I just can't understand the right wing talking point about Obama damaging the economy, when it clearly keeps improving.

Jared Mauch

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Shall be interesting. Last time my phone rang off the hook and my mailbox filled up with club for growth ads. It's an odd media market as MI-7 covers the BC/KZ area, Lansing as well as SE-MI. I suspect Pam has very good odds considering how it went Walberg-Schauer-Walberg...


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Actually, MI-7 no longer covers Battle Creek. It dropped Calhoun County and added Monroe County. Also, Lansing is not in this district. It also never covered Kalamazoo. This is a right-leaning district, but the one thing you have been right about is that it should be interesting.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

We need to get rid of Walberg, named one of the ten scariest Republicans. Tim Walberg, who is returning to the House next year after representing Michigan's 7th district for one term from 2007-2009, brags that he "was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party." Indeed, Walberg enthusiastically embraces the most extreme aspects of the Tea Party—from corporate pandering and vowing to cut social safety-net programs to far-right views on social issues and a predilection for conspiracy theories. Walberg wants to dramatically cut social safety net programs, and directs much of his scorn on Social Security. He's advocated for privatizing the program, and agreed with a supporter at a Tea Party event who said Social Security is unconstitutional and "a Ponzi scheme." In 2006, he called Social Security "socialism at its finest," adding, "That's defined as socialism when the government is required to take care of us all." Walberg's Religious Right credentials are also stellar. He opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape or incest. As a member of the House, he cosponsored two bills that, according to NARAL, "would end all legal abortion, most common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization". He voted against a bill that would have provided for stem cell research. In 2008, Walberg was the only member of the House education committee to vote "no" on extending funding for the Head Start program. He objected to a provision in the bill that prohibited Head Start preschools from discriminating based on religion, warning that a Christian parochial school might have to hire a Muslim or "a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor."


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Yeah those Wiccan coven's in Ann Arbor are scary indeed! What planet does this guy come from? Planet Kolob? Oh wait, I think that was Romney...


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

YEAH!!!! Go Pam!!! Anyone but the disgraceful Walberg! Walberg is notoriously anti gay and even after DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, he's on the bandwagon with the Kansas ideologues for this: rep-tim-huelskamp-r-ks-introduces- bill-to-prohibit-gay-marriages -on-military-bases-and-protect-anti-.html


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

It is high time we fired Tim "The Minister of Madness" Walberg for being an obstructive rubber stamp for special interests and corrupt Washington insiders like Eric Cantor.