Dr. Robert Townsend makes front page of MIRS News

97th Democrat Running As Doc That ‘Believes In Alternative Medicine’

Robert TOWNSEND says Lansing needs a doctor. And according to him, he is just the one to write Michigan’s prescription.

Townsend, a practicing physician and owner of a number of medical clinics throughout the state, is running for the state house in the 97th district.  The field in the 97th is full of Republicans. Six are vying for Joel JOHNSON’s (R-Clare) term-limited spot on the ballot. Townsend is the lone Democrat.

His businesses form a chain of clinics called Denali Healthcare, which are focused on pain management and addiction therapy. There, patients can receive their choice of alternative treatments — from acupuncture and massage therapy to counseling or a medical marijuana certification.

“I’m not running the campaign as a medical marijuana doctor, I’m running it as a pain-management and addiction doctor that believes in alternative medicine,” he said.

Long Term Activist with Fresh Ideas

Townsend also spoke of his involvement in 2012 legislation that amended the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4851, by clarifying the definitions of securely stored marijuana and the “bona fide physician-patient relationship.” Townsend said he worked as the “medical specialist” for a patient advocacy organization, but did not want to name the group on the record.

Expanding on his platform, Townsend pitched some eclectic proposals. They included hiring unemployed auto workers to build wind turbines and using the Michigan Virtual School as a supplementary educational tool, with teacher-submitted online lectures students could rate. He floated paying teachers $2 for each positive rating they receive. He brought up the issue of public defenders’ pay multiple times, saying they should receive more to argue a case so they aren’t incentivized to offer a plea.

He said his “politics in general are moderate,” although he “tends to be more liberal when it comes to social programs and infrastructure,” noting he admires Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT’s Works Progress Administration implemented during the great depression.


Townsend grew up in Gobles, Michigan, graduating from high school in 1980 and attended Michigan State University and medical school in Florida, before practicing internal medicine in South Carolina and Alaska. He moved back to the state in 2005, where he began Denali Healthcare in 2010.

He has a wife, Lori, who is from Clare, and six children, three of whom live with him in Michigan. His hobbies include “general aviation,” patient advocacy and maintaining a number of websites.

Townsend’s Prospects for the 97th

Longtime political observer Bill BALLENGER refrained from commenting on Townsend’s candidacy, but said the 97th district is only marginally Republican, and elected a Democrat for state representative about a decade ago.

“Again, all things being equal, and maybe they won’t be, we don’t know who the presidential nominees will be at the top of the ticket … then yeah, the Democrats could win that seat, no question about it,” Ballenger said. “I would say it’s not as high on their list as a bunch of other districts, but it’s not completely out of the question, either.”

The district has drifted more red in recent years, although they did vote slightly in favor of then-U.S. Rep. Gary PETERS (D-Bloomfield Hills) during his Senate race in 2014.

With a possible Donald TRUMP nomination, it seems all bets could be off.

note- posting paraphrases original article.  The article is from MIRS News, a respected political newsletter in Lansing.

Note:  Point of clarification on the wind turbine comment.  The point I was making was that I would like to see unused industrial infrastructure and unemployed skilled workers be ‘repurposed’.  Much as converting a typewriter repair business to a computer store to respond to a changing marketplace.

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