Surgeon Dan Benishek beat state Sen. Jason Allen by just 15 votes â out of 98,992 cast â in Michigan’s 1st District Republican primary, state officials announced Friday, though a recount is still likely.
“You can call me by my new nickname, Landslide Dan,” Benishek joked in a Friday call with reporters.
His campaign immediately declared victory and called for Allen supporters to join his campaign but refused to call on Allen to concede. “I don’t know what the best thing is. He has to make that decision himself,” Benishek said.
Benishek and Allen were vying for the right to take on Democratic state Rep. Gary McDowell in November in the closely watched race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak. Stupak announced his plans to retire after his prominent role in passing health reform sparked angry opposition, including some death threats.
Benishek was in the race before Stupak announced his retirement plans, and the establishment-backed Allen jumped in after the seat opened up and became competitive. While the district leans Republican, Stupak has held the seat since 1992 and has won by more than 60 percent in each of his elections since 2002.
Allen has until Sunday morning to decide whether to request a recount, a lengthy and expensive proposition that would cut into the eventual winner’s time and money to run against McDowell.