U.S. Senate

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Carl Levin retires from Congress at the end of the year. He

Michigan’s senior U.S. senator reflects on his career this weekend in an interview on Michigan Public Television.

Levin sat down for an interview with Senior Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick for the show “Off the Record.”

He says he first started to think about calling it quits a couple years ago. He says the decision not to seek reelection freed him up to focus on his official responsibilities without the distractions of campaigning and fundraising.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
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This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry review Election Day in Michigan including voter turnout, victories and disappointments for both parties, and what yesterday’s results could mean for the next four years.


Over the past few months, Michigan Radio hosted live call-in shows with the candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate.

The broadcasts were part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Network’s state Capitol bureau chief, hosted each hour-long program.

Listeners had the choice of calling in or submitting questions via Facebook at “Michigan Calling,” or Twitter using the hashtag: #MICalling.

You can watch or listen to the programs below.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta sat down with the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Terri Lynn Land  on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

She took questions from our statewide audience.

Terri Lynn Land served two terms as Michigan’s 41st Secretary of State (2003-2010). Land was elected to the Republican National Committee. She is a graduate of Grandville High School, and went to Hope College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Lynn’s Democratic opponent in the race for U.S. Senator is Gary Peters. To listen to our Michigan Calling program with Peters, go here.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s still more than a month before the November general election, but many Michigan voters are already getting their hands on the ballot.

Today, the Lansing City Clerk’s office mailed out 5,000 absentee ballots. The office sent electronic ballots to U.S. servicemen and women, and other overseas voters last week.

Clerk Chris Swope says demand for absentee ballots is bigger than normal, which he partially credits with the close race for governor.

Terri Lynn Land
Michigan Republican Party / Facebook

With 48 days to go until the Nov. 4 election, many people are wondering if Michigan voters would ever get a chance to hear a debate between the candidates for U.S. Senate and for governor.

Republican Terri Lynn Land took the first step today toward holding a debate with Democratic rival Gary Peters.

Land's campaign just named Lansing attorney Richard McLellan as its debate negotiator. Land says McLellan will work with Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV and Peters' campaign to possibly find a West Michigan journalist to co-moderate a debate with WXYZ Editorial Director Chuck Stokes.

Peters named former Lt. Gov. John Cherry as his debate negotiator Aug. 6. Peters has accepted three debate invitations outright and two others on the condition that Land also agrees.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta are co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics. In their views, Michigan voters are clearly looking for the candidates' debates. 

Terri Lynn Land
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It appears highly unlikely there will be a televised debate between Michigan’s two major-party candidates for U.S. Senate this fall. 

It’s not for a lack of potential debate venues. Two TV stations and Michigan State University have offered to host a debate between Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters.      

The Peters campaign has accepted those invitations, but Land’s campaign has not.

CALI - Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction / Flickr

We're about two and a half months away from the November general election and two big statewide races – the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

We're seeing plenty of advertisements in the campaigns, but no debates between the candidates.

Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio’s political commentator, said the reason for this is that front runners of the elections don’t want to give their opponents a shot to upstage them.

Lessenberry said Governor Snyder doesn’t want a debate for this very reason, as it would give his opponent, Democrat Mark Schauer, a chance to win the public over.

However the same is not said for the Senate candidates. Republican Terri Lynn Land is falling behind Democrat Gary Peters in polls. Normally Land would want the debate and Peters would not, but in this case, it's the opposite.

Lessenberry said he expects at least one debate in the governor's race, but it is unclear whether there will be one for the Senate race.

*Listen to the full interview with Jack Lessenberry above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan voters have viewed at least $20 million worth of political ads in competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns.

But whether they will see Gov. Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer, or Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters, in one-on-one debates this fall is in question.

Debates appear to have lost cachet in Michigan's statewide races.

In 2010, Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero had just one debate in the governor's race. Two years later, incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and GOP challenger Pete Hoekstra couldn't agree on even one debate.

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Usually we do a story when someone decides to run for office. Generally, it's not much news when a possible candidate decides against a run. But, in this case, today it is news. The headline: West Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash has decided he will not run for the open U.S. Senate in Michigan in 2014.

As of now, former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is the only declared Republican candidate.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

More than 1,500 works of art, with more than 160 venues, and 47 countries represented. Those are just a few statistics of this year's ArtPrize in Grand Rapids opening today with some 400,000 expected visitors to the city. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith was on the scene, and we spoke to her as well as the new Executive Director of ArtPrize.

And, Congressman Justin Amash has decided not to run for U.S. senate. What does this decision mean for the rest of the candidates?

The University of Michigan announced earlier that they will now offer in-state tuition to undocumented students. We talked with Serena Davila, the executive director for Legislative Affairs for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, about what this means for the students.

Also, how well are health care systems in the U.S. working? A new report by the Commonwealth Fund gave us some answers.

And, the small town of Colon in southwest Michigan has been dubbed the “Magic Capital of the World.” We spoke with one resident to find out why that is.

First on the show, our weekly check-in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes. And, on the front-burner? The mediation talks between Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and dozens and dozens of lawyers representing the city's creditors. Howes joined us to tell us more about the mediation.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A Republican congressman from western Michigan has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat opening with the retirement of Democrat Carl Levin.

Justin Amash of Kent County's Cascade Township confirmed on Twitter Tuesday night that he won't run. The libertarian conservative has gained a higher profile in the House with a challenge to the National Security Agency's collection of Americans' phone records.

Amash's announcement further clears the way for former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to proceed with her campaign.

Congressman Dave Camp with John Boehner.
user republicanconference / Flickr

Michigan House Republican Dave Camp is considering a possible Senate run in 2014, Politico’s John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman reported.

A Midland native, Camp serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, an influential task force in charge of tax writing. Camp has been working across the aisle with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, (D-MT), on overhauling the tax code.

But Camp’s term-limited chairmanship is ending, and now Washington -- and Michigan -- are buzzing with the possibility of a Senate run. From Politico:

"I’m looking at it," Camp said. "It’s a big decision, and I’m going to look at it very carefully and thoughtfully."

Politico also reported that the Michigan representative has met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to discuss the possibility of entering his hat into the senatorial ring.

Patricia Drury / Flickr

A group of Republican U.S. senators wants to prohibit the federal government from providing financial support to Detroit.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers are waiting to see if Congress can reach a deal soon on a new Farm Bill.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the nearly trillion dollar, five year Farm Bill on Monday. The U.S. House continues to work on its own version of the bill, which funds crop insurance and other programs for farmers, along with food assistance for the needy.

The Farm Bill has been stalled in Congress for more than a year. And that has made it difficult for Michigan farmers to plan for the future.

Ever since U.S. Senator Carl Levin announced three months ago that he wouldn't seek another term next year, most Michigan Republicans have been waiting for Godot.

Except in this case, Godot is Brighton area Congressmen Mike Rogers, who most GOP leaders felt would be their strongest candidate. Rogers has been unable or unwilling to decide, however, and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will run.

He has a safe seat in Congress and a powerful and prestigious position as chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Giving all that up for a risky run for a seat in a state where Democrats usually win U.S. Senate contests might not seem that appealing. But I’ve never felt Rogers was the Republicans' strongest potential candidate. I think their best chance to win is the woman who announced her candidacy this week, Terri Lynn Land.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor urging legislature to expand Medicaid

“Governor Rick Snyder is urging the Legislature to act on expanding Medicaid before the end of June and the beginning of the summer recess. The governor says the Medicaid expansion is a cost-saver for taxpayers, businesses, and hospitals because it would reduce expensive emergency visits by uninsured patients. Some Republicans are calling for time limits and benefit caps before they’ll consider the expansion. The governor says he’d like to wrap up the expansion in time to start enrolling new Medicaid patients in January,” Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports.

Terri Land expected to announce candidacy for Senator Carl Levin's seat

“Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is expected to announce today whether she intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Carl Levin. So far Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township is the only person who's announced his candidacy; Terri Land would be the first Republican candidate to formally step into the race. Land easily won two statewide elections serving as secretary of state from 2003 to 2011; before that she served as Kent County clerk,” Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports.

Lansing city council will respond to mayor's vetoes

The Lansing city council is expected to try to override the mayor’s budget vetoes tonight, but the council does not appear to have enough votes to do it. Six of the council's eight members would need to vote to override the vetoes, but as Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports, “that appears unlikely.”  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's has been expected, and now it is official.

In an e-mail to supporters today, this logo was at the top:

Debbie Dingell decides against 2014 US Senate run

Apr 20, 2013
Wayne State University

Democratic national committeewoman Debbie Dingell says she has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat that opened up with Carl Levin's impending retirement.

Romney's older brother interested in Levin seat

Mar 9, 2013

The older brother of presidential candidate Mitt Romney is interested in running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by Carl Levin in 2014.

A state GOP official said Friday that Scott Romney, 71, is exploring his options with potential supporters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about specific candidates.

An attorney, Scott Romney lost the 1998 nomination for attorney general at the Michigan Republican Party's convention. One of his ex-wives, Ronna, ran for the Senate in 1996 but lost to Levin.

The political chattering class is busy today in Michigan talking about Senator Carl Levin – retiring after three decades in the US Senate. Politicos are remembering a long and distinguished career – a career, we should mention, that is certainly not yet over. Senator Levin still has another 20 months before the end of his term. But if we’re honest – really honest – this announcement kicks off the insider talk about who will run to replace him. Right now, that’s a delicate subject: sort of like talking about what’s in the will while you’re still at the funeral. But, the plotting has already begun… this is politics, after all.

It would be somewhat uncouth - slightly tacky - for anyone to publicly express interest in the seat this soon. But, let’s just say, anyone who has not taken themselves out is either in or thinking about it. On the Democratic side, we’ve got Congressman Gary Peters and Democratic National Committeewoman and southeast Michigan power broker Debbie Dingell. On the Republican side we’ve got Congressman Justin Amash, former Sectary of State Terri Lynn Land and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.

Calley, however, is in a bit of an awkward position if his name keeps getting mentioned.  Attorney General Bill Schuette made sure he took his own name out of consideration very quickly. For his office, like lieutenant governor and secretary of state, the nomination is made at a party convention. If Schuette, Calley or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson keep popping up on people’s lists of possible Senate candidates, that invites an effort for other contenders for their jobs to organize a convention challenge – which is just a couple thousand people; something that’s do-able for a lot of people who might not have the wherewithal to organizer a primary campaign. So, some possible contenders really have to decide quickly: fish or cut bait. It may be an honor to be mentioned… but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will choose between two long time fixtures on the state political scene in next Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race.  

The result may mark the end of one of those political careers.

Democrat Debbie Stabenow has spent the past twelve years in the U.S. Senate. 

In that time, the Democratic incumbent has acquired a certain degree of political influence, for example as the chair of the Senate Agriculture committee, and a certain comfort when it comes to raising campaign donations. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Farm Bureau is throwing its support behind Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in this fall’s U.S. Senate race.

The endorsement is a bit of a surprise.

The Michigan Farm Bureau supported Stabenow’s Republican opponents in her two previous U.S. Senate races.   But not this time.

The endorsement comes as Stabenow works on the 2012 Farm Bill, as chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. Senate race is getting attention from top Congressional GOP leaders at the Republican National Convention.

“It’s not just carrying it for Mitt Romney…we need a new senator from Michigan as well,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Michigan delegates this morning, “Because I would like to be setting the agenda in the Senate instead of (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid.”

McConnell told the delegates that Republican control of the U.S. Senate depends on Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is up for reelection this November and is looking to prove her bona fides amongst the state's agriculturally-minded constituents.

According to a story from Bloomberg News, incumbent lawmakers are struggling to find new ways to prove their worth to voters after Congress outlawed earmarks for home-state projects.

Stabenow, Bloomberg writes, is using a $969 billion national farm policy bill she wrote as head of the Senate Agriculture Committee to show Michigan voters ---especially food growers--- that she is working for them.

From Bloomberg News:

[Stabenow] persuaded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to let her bring up the legislation early so she could tout its expanded assistance to farmers -- including Michigan fruit growers, who have suffered crippling crop losses this spring.

Unseasonably-fluctuating temperatures in March and April have been wreaking havoc on Michigan's tart cherry crop, a staple product for some northern parts of the state. The Environment Report's Bob Allen reported in April that Northwest Michigan saw a tart cherry crop loss of 50 percent to 70 percent this year. Other fruits like apples, peaches and plums were also hit hard.

Bloomberg News writes that "cherries and other fruit crops damaged in Michigan would have more protections under the expanded insurance system in the farm bill," and Stabenow would like to make sure farmers know it.

According to Bloomberg, some growers are getting the message:

Ben LaCross, a northern Michigan grower of cherries, apples and plums, told reporters last week that his farm would be in “free fall” without federal assistance, adding that Stabenow’s measure would expand the tools available to help farmers cope with crop failures like the one this year.

“Crop insurance will help keep family businesses like mine in business,” LaCross said.

The farm bill is being debated in the Senate.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

user Kcdtsg / wikimedia commons

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is appealing to lawmakers in Washington to make online retailers collect state sales tax.

Melissa Anders from MLive.com reports that Gov. Snyder sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders this week expressing his support for the Marketplace Fairness Act. The law would require companies doing business online to calculate sales tax based on customer location and collect the taxes on behalf of states.

Governor Snyder reportedly sees the law as "a way to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar shops and online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com," Anders writes.

In the letter, Snyder also sights fiscal concerns:

"The Michigan Department of Treasury estimates that total revenue lost to e-commerce and mail-order purchases will amount to $872 million during fiscal years 2012 and 2013...it is crucial that the state has the tools to fairly collect the revenue that it is owed. The Marketplace Fairness act would provide states with the authority to do just that."

Michigan residents are already required to pay a "use tax" of 6 percent on their income tax returns for purchases made online. But it's difficult to enforce and few taxpayers heed the rule.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee says Chairman Carl Levin and member Jack Reed are visiting Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO headquarters in Belgium starting this weekend.

The committee announced the trip Sunday by the two Democratic lawmakers. Levin is from Michigan and Reed is from Rhode Island.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican frontrunner, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, reports on his facebook page he raised $700,000 in the first quarter of this year for his campaign against incumbent U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.  The Stabenow campaign claims in an email she raised twice as much, “more than $1.5 million”.

Inside Michigan Politics Editor Bill Ballenger says whoever wins the primary is going to need a lot more money.

Mark Brush / images from YouTube

The actress featured in Pete Hoekstra's Super Bowl ad that sparked charges of racism has apologized.

Hoekstra, who is vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, first attempted to defend the ad, but later pulled it down after the outcry.

Lisa Chan posted the apology yesterday on her Facebook page:

"I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions."

Hoekstra, the front runner for the Republican nomination, was hoping the ad would draw attention to his campaign. It did - just the wrong kind of attention. The Hill reports the  "Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows Stabenow up 51 percent to 37 percent. That's an increase over the 9-point lead she held in their July poll."

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