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Rogers makes Senate campaign stop in Houghton

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Mike Rogers speaks to people in Houghton Sunday during a campaign stop for his U.S. Senate campaign. Rogers, a former seven-term U.S. Congressman, is running in the Republican primary for the seat currently held by Debbie Stabenow, who announced thi syear she is not seeking re-election.

By GARRETT NEESE

gneese@mininggazette.com

HOUGHTON — A Republican candidate for Michigan U.S. Senate stopped in Houghton to talk with residents Sunday.

Mike Rogers, a former U.S. Congressman, spoke at the Mine Shaft & Rock House. He is running for the seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who announced earlier this year she is not running for re-election next year.

Rogers represented the 8th District in central Michigan for 14 years, leaving Congress in 2005 after declining to run for an eighth term. His work after leaving office included hosting a radio program.

Rogers said he had been motivated to return to politics. His experience in a program serving as a sponsor family for midshipmen had let him hear about their disillusionment with the direction of the military, he said. And his experience on the House Intelligence Committee and in cybersecurity had also made him concerned about China’s rise as a global power.

“I just started really believing we have this major strategic competition with China, that I don’t think most Americans are even realizing what’s going on,” he said.

Rogers said he is troubled by the push for electric vehicles, in part because of what he said would be a growing reliance on China. Earlier this year, President Biden set a non-binding goal that half of all U.S. car sales be electric by 2030, and called for the economy to be zero-emissions by 2050.

China produces 92% of anodes, 77% of cathodes and 66% of battery cells for the vehicles, according to a New York Times report from earlier this year. The Inflation Reduction Act included consumer tax credits for electric vehicle buyers contingent on a certain amount of its materials having been produced in North America.

Keeping electric vehicles charged and operating will also be more difficult in rural areas such as the Upper Peninsula, Rogers said. He was also concerned about the environmental impacts of the batteries once they expire.

Rogers said there should be more of a focus on hybrid vehicles, far more of which can be produced using the same minerals, he said.

“We get to keep our jobs downstate, we get to build something that actually helps the environment take CO2 out of the air, and we’re not reliant on China to do it,” he said.

Rogers said he was also interested in small modular nuclear reactors, which he said would be zero-emission. The nuclear fission reactors would be around a tenth of the size of a conventional reactor. Earlier this year, the U.S.’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified its design of one of the small reactors, which NuScale Power Corp. is building as a demonstration.

The company said it would be ready for use by 2030.

“You could put one here and power both Marquette and here,” he said. “And it’s so containable. You wouldn’t have to worry about the kind of problems that happened before. I really like the technology, and I think it would go a long way. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to have carbon.”

Rogers said he was also concerned about China’s growing military and educational advantage. He said he was troubled problems in America’s educational system, including the percentage of children reading at grade level. He called for reading intervention programs that could bring children back up to speed before they fall too far behind.

He also said Title I money should be paired with school choice money to allow parents to move their children to another district in the event schools can’t improve the students’ reading scores.

“I think it would be a great way to put pressure on the schools to get off all this other nonsense that they’re doing, teaching reading,” he said. “Reading helps you with math, it helps you with your life skills and helps you learn.”

On abortion, Rogers said he supported the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. If elected, he said, he would also back moves such as a full ban on federal funding for abortion. Versions of the bill have been introduced several times since 2011, including one earlier this year by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. It would replace the yearly vote for the Hyde Amendment with a permanent measure, while also removing the ability to pay for abortions through insurance subsidized through the Affordable Care Act.

However, Rogers said he did not favor a full national ban on abortion. He said a majority of Michigan voters had already expressed their view through last year’s Proposal 3, which enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution. he feels it would be hypocritical to have supported the return to state-level decisions on abortion, only to renege when state voters have a different view than him.

“I don’t think it’s a federal issue,” he said. “I do think it’s a state issue based on what the Supreme Court has told us. And this is where that fight needs to be.”

Rogers was also asked about election integrity issues. He has said while he thinks there were irregularities, he accepts the results of the election and thinks President Joe Biden received more votes in 2020.

For 2024, he said, Republicans would need to match Democrats’ early-vote operations, such as tracking ballots and calling likely Republican voters to remind them to cast their vote.

“​​This is where I thought Trump made a mistake when he said, ‘Everybody vote on Election Day, only vote on Election Day,'” he said. “And the problem is something happens, someone gets sick, your kids, the weather’s bad, you don’t make it and guess what now? We’ve lost how many votes and it was going to be a very close race.”

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