Politics & Government
1:01 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Election: Michigan's U.S. Senate Race

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. 

Stabenow has spent more than five million dollars running TV ads touting her support for Medicare and Michigan agri-industry. 

Stabenow says there is more she can do in Washington to protect the middle class, if Michigan voters send her back for a third six year term.

"I’m laser focused on…jobs…making things, growing things…so that we have a middle class," says Stabenow.

Pete Hoekstra has been busy.   Not only on the campaign trail, but also attending campaign fundraisers.

It’s something the Republican senate candidate has done a lot of in recent years.

He’s running in his second statewide race since 2010, when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor.    Before that Hoekstra served nine terms in Congress, representing west Michigan from 1993 until 2011.   

If elected, Hoekstra says he’ll bring solutions to Washington.

"The most pressing problem that people feel they have today is the economy," says Hoekstra,  "People are under a lot of pressure.  They’re nervous about their jobs.   They’re nervous about the opportunities for their kids and their grand kids.”

Hoekstra says his solution to Michigan’s and the nation’s economic problems is to create jobs by reducing regulations and cutting taxes.

He also wants to roll back many of the Obama administration policies that Senator Stabenow has supported.

The polls suggest that Hoekstra faces an uphill battle against Stabenow.     The Democratic incumbent holds a comfortable double digit led.

Bill Ballenger is the editor of Inside Michigan Politics.   He says Stabenow is benefitting from having President Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket. 

There’s also the fact that Republicans haven’t had much luck winning U.S. Senate seats in Michigan, winning only three senate elections in the past 60 years. 

Ballenger says a defeat in November could spell an end to Pete Hoekstra’s political career.

“You don’t need to feel sorry for Pete Hoekstra.  I don’t think he’s feeling sorry for himself," says Ballenger,  "If he loses this race, he’ll be able to go back and continue his work in the private sector as a lobbyist.  But I think his political career in Michigan will be over.”

Hoekstra only says he’ll ‘cross that bridge’ if it happens.   But otherwise, he remains optimistic that Michigan voters will decide to elect a Republican U.S. Senator this year.