TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. Shortly after newly elected Rep. Dan Benishek arrived in Washington, staffers raised a banner that proclaimed to visitors in his Capitol Hill suite: "If you are here to ask for more money, you're in the wrong office!"
The message was fitting for a tea party favorite who had railed against federal spending and a "nanny-state mentality" during the 2010 campaign that led to a Republican takeover of the House. But it was something new for his constituents in northern Michigan, a largely rural area where a spirit of self-reliance coexists with the reality that government popular or not is a crucial economic player.
For decades, Michigan's 1st Congressional Di