Birthdate: April 21, 1952
Birth Place: Rudyard, MI, United States
Residence: Rudyard, MI
Gary McDowell is a fifth-generation resident of Michigan's sparsely populated, rural Upper Peninsula. The oldest of 10 siblings, he was born and resides in the small town of Rudyard, where he farms more than 1,000 acres of hay with his brothers, Bob and Ron McDowell. He attended Lake Superior State University.
McDowell is also the treasurer of a family business that brokers hay sales from the eastern Upper Peninsula to markets around the nation. He also worked as a United Parcel Service delivery driver for 23 years.
He served as a volunteer firefighter and volunteer emergency medical technician for 18 years and pushed for the establishment of 911 service in Chippewa County. He has been a board member at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for two decades.
McDowell and his wife, Carrie, have three daughters.
Gary McDowell is waging a rematch in 2012 with freshman Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, who defeated McDowell 52 percent to 40 percent in the 2010 election for Michigan's 1st Congressional District seat.
McDowell faces an uphill climb, as Michigan's sprawling 1st Congressional District became even more GOP-friendly after the Republican-led state legislature redrew its boundaries following the 2010 census. Even so, analysts consider the race competitive and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made recapturing the seat _ which Democrat Bart Stupak held for 18 years before Benishek's election _ a top priority.
McDowell has portrayed Benishek as a tea party ideologue and himself as a pragmatic centrist. He has accused Benishek of voting for policies that would damage Medicare, a particularly sensitive issue in the northern Michigan district, a retirement haven where the population is disproportionately elderly. McDowell pledges to strengthen Medicare and Social Security but also says his own party needs to get serious about cutting federal spending.
He appeals to social conservatives by opposing abortion rights and earning top ratings from the National Rifle Association. McDowell also contends Benishek has been unresponsive to constituents' needs and cast votes that damaged local interests, including a vote for a transportation bill that curbed federal support for airlines that serve small airports.
The district has shorelines on three of the Great Lakes _ Superior, Michigan and Huron. McDowell opposes drilling for oil and gas beneath the lakes and bottling their waters for sale. He criticized Benishek for supporting looser regulation of air emissions from cement plants, a source of mercury pollution in the region.
McDowell has been politically active for more than two decades. He was a Chippewa County commissioner from 1981 to 2001, serving as chairman from 1998 to 2002. He served three terms in the Michigan House, the most allowed under the state's term limits law.
Source: Associated Press