In central Florida, longtime Rep. John Mica and freshman Rep. Sandy Adams are running in the redrawn 7th District instead of shifting to a newly created district that lacks an incumbent.
Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has the endorsement of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a onetime presidential candidate. Adams has the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee. The race pits an established Republican against a tea party upstart, with the focus on budget cuts, pet projects spending and who's the most conservative.
Michigan Reps. Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke have remained generally civil in in their Detroit area Democratic primary. Yet Clarke, the son of a Bangladeshi man and a black woman, has refused to participate in campaign debates because of what he described as "racist rhetoric and race-baiting by certain candidates." He has not accused anyone by name. Clarke recently began running radio ads aimed at black voters, proclaiming he's "one of us" while asserting that Peters lives in Republican presidential candidate "Mitt Romney's old neighborhood" in the suburbs
Peters, who enjoys a fundraising advantage, has the endorsement of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and is the first white House candidate supported by The Black Slate, a Detroit activist coalition. If Peters prevails, and longtime Rep. John Conyers stumbles in a four-way Democratic primary, Detroit could be left with no black representation the House. The same would be true for St. Louis, if Clay loses.
Since their peak in 1950, the populations of Detroit and St. Louis both have declined by more than 60 percent, and it's predominantly white residents who have left.
Although not overtly stated in campaigns, "there's no question that race plays a big role," said Ken Warren, a political science professor at Saint Louis University. "Polarized voting is an electoral reality. Blacks vote for blacks, whites vote for whites, Italians vote for Italians, Mormons vote for Mormons."
Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.
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