WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg said he's not ruling out a 2010 rematch for the seat he lost to Rep.-elect Mark Schauer in last Tuesday's election, though he said no decisions have been made yet.
Walberg was elected to the 7th District seat in 2006, when he knocked of Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz in a primary. And like he predecessor, Walberg lost his seat before his first term expired.
But whereas his 2006 victory was widely credited to the conservative Walberg facing the centrist Schwarz in a primary, Walberg - in his first in-depth interview since Election Day - said his loss wasn't a repudiation of him or his conservative philosophy. Rather, he said Barack Obama and his supporters were very successful in turning out their own supporters who voted with Democrats down the ballot.
"If this were an election like most presidential elections, then we win," Walberg explained. "But they were very successful with registering new voters and getting them to the polls."
So now what? Well, he'll be back in Washington next week if Congress goes back into session. And he'll vote on whatever auto bailout bill comes forth, if any does (He's undecided on the bailout, he said, saying he'll have to see the language).
As with every departing representative, Walberg will have the next two months to consider his legacy. And if he never comes back to Washington, Walberg said his legacy will be intact.
"Regardless of whether you agreed with me or not, I always said when I campaigned that you'd know where I stand," he said. Other accomplishments he listed included "not abandoning my principles" and securing funding for a new runway at Battle Creek International Airport.
That was one action, however, that Schauer successfully pilloried Walberg for in the campaign, as Walberg eventually voted against the budget bill containing the earmark. For his part, Walberg said it was a principled stand because "I was able to secure the earmark without being blackmailed and forced to vote for a pork-laden bill that included the Bridge to Nowhere."
Walberg said his work schedule come January is still up in the air - feeling out offers and such. But first, he said, it's back home to Tipton for some rest and relaxation. There's the Harley Davidson he's been neglecting, spending time with his wife Sue, things like that. However, he said he won't sit idle for long.
"I think if I just sat on the porch all day, I'd be a very bored fella," he said with a laugh. "I'm still very interested in serving however I can."
And sometime, be it in a month or a year, he'll have to address the question that will dog him for the next year: Will he or won't he re-seek the 7th District seat?
Walberg's answer: "I'm not planning on it right now, but I've been in politics long enough to know you never say never."