Nearly every election cycle Michigan flirts with the idea of electing Republicans on the federal level but typically settles on Democrats. 2012 could be the year to reverse that trend.
Incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow has never enjoyed particularly spectacular approval ratings. The National Journal reported that if Stabenow fails to connect with her key constituencies, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R)’s campaign “could present a surprisingly difficult challenge.”
Stabenow entered the Senate after unseating incumbent Republican Sen. Spence Abraham in 2000. Now, Stabenow finds her early numbers strikingly similar to Abraham’s, struggling to break 50 percent in the first polls taken in 2012. However, what Stabenow lacks in current poll numbers she makes up for in financial edge over her Republican challengers.
Republican Senate candidates former Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former Cornerstone Schools CEO Clark Durant each finished their first-quarter fundraising with about $1.5 million on hand. Stabenow holds $7 million on hand for her reelection effort. Hoekstra offered an explanation for the first quarter of fundraising. “We lost three weeks of fundraising here when everyone was focused on the primary,” said Hoekstra, who took in about $285,000 less than the last three months of 2011. “First quarter was bad.” Republican candidate Randy Hekman trails his primary opponents in fundraising, reporting that he raised $142,000, spent $135,000 and has about $7,000 on hand.
Hoekstra boasts the endorsement of high profile Republicans both in Michigan and nationwide, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Governor John Kasich (R-OH), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-PA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA). In 2010, Hoekstra unsuccessfully ran for governor against Snyder. In that race, Hoekstra earned the endorsements of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Another factor likely to have implications down the ballot is Mitt Romney as the presumptive GOP nominee for president. Romney’s father, George Romney, was the chairman and president of American Motors Corporation and served as Michigan’s 43rd governor.
Mitt Romney is already outperforming President Obama in Michigan fundraising in 2012, making many reconsider whether President Obama can count on Michigan’s electoral votes, a state he easily won in 2008. Underscoring the competitive nature of the state, President Obama visits Michigan for two fundraisers, one of which will be held at the Henry Ford Museum, the site where Romney launched his 2008 presidential bid.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
On abortion, the contrast between Debbie Stabenow and her Republican challengers could not be starker. Stabenow earned a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee for her entire Senate career. Stabenow even opposed the ban on the horrific practice of partial-birth abortion. Recently, Stabenow voted for the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law, for federal funding for Planned Parenthood and against conscience protections. Stabenow has also earned the support of the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List. The group’s website praises Stabenow, calling her a “committed defender of reproductive freedom” having “fought to expand access to family planning.” EMILY’s List also asserts Stabenow has been working to pass legislation like Obamacare for decades.
Conversely, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra earned a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. In his last term in the US House, Hoekstra voted for the pro-life Stupak-Pitts Amendment and ultimately against the pro-abortion Obama healthcare bill. Unlike Stabenow, Hoekstra did vote to protect unborn children from partial-birth abortion. He also stood strong against embryo-destructive research and taxpayer funding of abortion domestically and overseas. Clark Durant and Randy Hekman have also stated they hold pro-life positions.