Timothy Lee "Tim" Walberg (born April 12, 1951) is the current U.S. Representative for Michigan's 7th congressional district, and was also the former Congressman for the district from 2007 to 2009.
Early life, education, and religious career
Born and educated in Chicago, Illinois, Walberg left a post-high school position with the U.S. Forest Service to pursue higher education. At one point working in a steel mill to help pay tuition, he studied forestry at Western Illinois University and attended Moody Bible Institute, but did not complete a degree until 1975, when he earned a B.A. in religious education from Fort Wayne Bible College. By then Walberg was half-way through a four-year stint as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in New Haven, Indiana, which concluded when he enrolled in the Wheaton College graduate school.
After receiving an M.A. in communications in 1978, Walberg and his young family relocated to Tipton, Michigan, where he led services at Union Gospel Church and became involved in local anti-abortion movements. He resigned his pastorship in 1982 in preparation for a successful bid for the Michigan House of Representatives.
Walberg served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1998. He was succeeded by Doug Spade and the seat is currently held by Dudley Spade, both Democrats. Walberg also spent time as a pastor and as a division manager for the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois while continuing to live in Michigan.
U.S. House of Representatives
After six years out of politics, Walberg ran in the 2004 Republican primary for the 7th District after six-term incumbent Nick Smith retired. He narrowly lost to former State Senator Joe Schwarz, a considerably more moderate Republican. Schwarz went on to win in November.
Walberg immediately began gearing up for a rematch against Schwarz in 2006. During the 2006 primary, Walberg received financial support from various pro-life groups and the Club for Growth. His campaign criticized Schwarz for his positions on abortion, taxes, government / pork-barrel spending, and national security.
Additionally, Walberg campaigned for cutting taxes, against providing amnesty to illegal immigrants, against gay marriage, and against pork-barrel spending. Walberg defeated Schwarz in the primary by 3,915 votes.
In October 2006, the Walberg campaign faced scandal when the campaign's volunteer coordinator pled guilty to child abuse charges. The allegations first appeared in the Jackson Citizen Patriot. According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Walberg said he knew of the alleged abuse 'on or about Sept. 12'." The staffer pled guilty to the charges on September 18 and left the campaign after the charges became public in October. Walberg frequently stated the matter was "private" and he hoped the best for the family involved.
Walberg's defeat of Schwarz gave the Democrats hope of winning the seat. Although Republicans had held it for decades, the 7th is a somewhat marginal district on paper; it narrowly voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and voted for George W. Bush almost as narrowly in 2000 and 2004. On the other hand, Schwarz had won the previous election (against the same Democratic opponent) by 22%.
On November 7, 2006, Walberg defeated Democrat Sharon Renier, the 2004 Democratic nominee. Walberg received 49.93% to Renier's 45.98%, less than he was expected to win by.
The Renier campaign spent $46,000 to Walberg's $1.2 million.
Entering the 2008 race, Walberg was identified by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen as one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in congress. On August 23, 2007, State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer announced he would challenge Walberg in the 2008 election. The prior occupant of the seat, Joe Schwarz, who was defeated by Walberg in the 2006 Republican primary declined to run himself, but on September 30 endorsed Schauer.
Schauer narrowly defeated Walberg in the November 2008 election. Republican presidential candidate John McCain lost the district to Democrat Barack Obama by nearly 17,000 votes but outpolled Walberg by over 6,000 votes, while Walberg lost to Schauer by 7,432 votes. Between the two candidates, around $3.5 million dollars were spent on the campaign, along with the massive amount spent by independent groups, made it the most expensive House race in the 2008 election.
Walberg challenged Democratic incubent Mark Schauer. Libertarian nominee Greg Merle, US Taxpayers nominee Eugene Aughney, and Green Party nominee Richard Wunsch were also running.
On July 14, 2009, Walberg announced that he was running for his old congressional seat. He defeated Marvin Carlson and Brian Rooney in the Republican primary.
Prior to the election, nonpartisan polling showed the race as a dead heat.
In the final results Walberg won the seat with 50.1% of the vote.
Tim and his wife Sue live in Tipton (near Tecumseh, Michigan), where they brought up their three now-adult children. Walberg's son Matthew works as a crime reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
November 30th, 2011