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Hoekstra to challenge Stabenow for U.S. Senate | News

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Hoekstra to challenge Stabenow for U.S. Senate
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LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland will run for the Republican nomination to face U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow next year, giving the party the high-profile candidate it sought to take on the two-term Democrat, a source familiar with Hoekstra's decision said Tuesday.

Hoekstra, a nine-term Republican who stepped down to run for governor last year, did not return repeated calls for comment Tuesday, and his office in Washington said he was out of town. The source confirmed Hoekstra's candidacy on condition of anonymity because it hadn't been publicly announced.

Other Republican insiders also said they were hearing Hoekstra was about to enter the race.

"I knew he was contemplating it and we're all excited about it," said former Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop of Rochester, a Hoekstra supporter who said he had not heard from Hoekstra himself.

The Michigan Republican Party has been casting about for a strong candidate to take on Stabenow, especially since former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (now running for president) decided against facing her in 2012.

Stabenow's campaign did not comment on the prospect of Hoekstra entering the race, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did, with its press secretary, Shripal Shah, calling Hoekstra "Mr. Revolving Door."

"Pete Hoekstra is a congressman turned Washington lobbyist who has stood up for taxpayer-funded bonuses for bailed out CEOs, tax giveaways for oil companies and Republican efforts to privatize Medicare," said Shah.

Word came late last week that Hoekstra - who earlier this year ruled out a run against the well-funded Stabenow - was reconsidering his decision after being contacted by party leaders. But Tuesday's report that he had decided to run caught even some close supporters by surprise.

John Truscott, who served as Hoekstra's spokesman during a failed run for the Republican nomination for governor last year, believed Hoekstra was still weighing his options.

Since leaving Congress at the beginning of this year, Hoekstra has worked as a senior advisor to Dickstein Shapiro's public policy and law practice in Washington, with an emphasis on national security and foreign relations. Hoekstra was formerly chairman and ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Taking on Stabenow won't be easy. Last week, her campaign reported it had raised $1.5 million in the three months before June 30 - the best fund-raising quarter she's ever had - and has more than $4 million cash on hand. She is widely regarded as a tenacious campaigner.

In his race for the Republican nomination for governor, Hoekstra raised about $1.4 million, far less than the $3.3 million raised by former state Attorney General Mike Cox or the $8 million raised by the eventual winner, Gov. Rick Snyder, though Snyder contributed heavily from his own pockets.

Hoekstra raised his profile by running for governor and would be considered the favorite in a Republican primary to win the right to run against Stabenow.

Gary Glenn with the Midland-based Campaign for Michigan Families has been talking about getting into the race. He said today that Hoekstra would have "considerable advantages, but his vote in favor of spending $850 billion to bail out Wall Street remains a significant concern."

"It certainly reshuffles the deck and my expectation is that most of the other individuals who have talked about the race will immediately exit," said Glenn. "I'm going to continue to assess the race to determine how strong the sentiment is for someone outside the political establishment."

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch, former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman and northern Michigan businessman Peter Konetchy are the Republicans currently filed to run for the nomination.

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