Debbie Stabenow

Deborah Ann Greer Stabenow is the United States Senator for Michigan. Born in Gladwin and raised in Clare, Stabenow has long been rooted in Michigan politics. Stabenow received her Master’s from Michigan State and worked in public schools before she was elected to the United States Senate in 2000.

Thirty-four years ago, when Debbie Stabenow was a newly elected state representative in a very male-dominated legislature, she got the first of a number of encouraging notes from an older woman who had spent a lot of years in the fishbowl of politics.

Those notes meant a lot to Stabenow, as she went on to become a force to be reckoned with in first the state house and then the senate; in Congress and  finally in the U.S. Senate.

What made that support all the more remarkable is that Stabenow is a Democrat. And the woman who reached out to her was the wife of the Republican governor, Helen Milliken, perhaps the least likely and most effective feminist in Michigan history.

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State Supreme Court Justice faces sentencing

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is due in court today to be sentenced for fraud. Hathaway was forced to resign in January when she pleaded guilty to a scheme to cheat the bank by hiding assets.  Hathaway’s attorney is asking that she be allowed to perform community service and pay thousands of dollars in fines; however, federal prosecutors have asked for prison time of 12 to 18 months. Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta has more.

Benton Harbor EM believes deficit will be eliminated in one year

Tony Saunders, the emergency manager of Benton Harbor, says elected leaders are likely to regain control within a year when the city's structural deficit will be eliminated. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports Benton Harbor’s new emergency manager says he’s cut more than a million dollars from the budget in just three months.

Senator Debbie Stabenow's farm bill is headed to the senate

Senator Debbie Stabenow will rally in West Michigan this week. She's trying to get farmers to pressure lawmakers to pass her new farm bill to funds crop insurance programs and research to help fight invasive insects. Last year the Senate passed the farm bill but it died in the House. The Senate is expected to vote on the farm bill early next month.

Stateside: Stabenow addresses farm bill, stresses its urgency

Jan 15, 2013

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing earlier this morning.

Stabenow, who spoke today with Stateside, was confident the bill would pass.

“It will, because our farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a five-year farm bill and consumers need to know what their choices are and our farm bill includes more investments in local food systems. When we look at the deficit we have today, we need to find ways to cut spending. We did that in our farm bill. We saved $24 billion dollars and will move agriculture toward the future,” she said.

One of the bill’s interests, said Stabenow, is preserving the quality of the Great Lakes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Michigan leaders in agriculture to push Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing Tuesday.

Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She vowed not to compromise on policies important to Michigan farmers as lawmakers write a new bill.

Courtesy photo / The Lakeshore Advantage

This story was updated to correct that the $120 million goes to a a number of partners including two in Michigan.

Lindey Smith / Michigan Radio

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra thanked his supporters in West Michigan before conceding defeat in the U.S. Senate race Tuesday night. The race between incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow and Hoekstra was called early; before the presidential race.

Fans of the GOP at the Grand Rapids party were disappointed about Hoekstra's defeat, but still hopeful about Romney when he took the stage.

“As you have seen on the TV screens, we came up short tonight,” Hoekstra explained to the crowd of at least 300 people.

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. 

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is defending federal subsidies to promote green energy and advanced manufacturing businesses.

The loans, grants, and tax credits were part of the federal economic recovery package.

A company that got a quarter-billion dollar grant declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. A123 employed hundreds of people in Michigan at facilities in Livonia, Romulus, and Ann Arbor.

Stabenow said the subsidies remain an important part of national energy and economic policy—even if some of the investments don’t pan out.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in Studio East at Michigan Radio.
Cameron Stewart / Michigan Radio

There won't be a U.S. Senate debate this year, but that doesn't mean the candidates aren't taking questions.

This morning, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow stopped by our studios to talk with callers from around the state.

Host of Michigan Calling Rick Pluta directed the conversation which covered topics such as jobs and the economy, green energy, education and student debt, Asian carp, and Michigan agriculture and the Farm Bill.

You can listen to the conversation above.

After the presidential race, the top of the ballot in Michigan is the U.S. Senate race.  Michigan Watch teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to review recent ads produced by Republican Pete Hoekstra and Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

Oct 12, 2012
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No more Senate candidate debates

"It appears there will be no debate between Senator Debbie Stabenow and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Stabenow called off talks to schedule the debates, saying her opponent won't negotiate in good faith. Hoestra says Stabenow is afraid to debate him. Senate candidates usually hold at least two debates. One debate has traditionally been held at the Detroit Economic Club. Hoekstra says the sticking point was holding debates in a medium that lots of voters could see. Hoekstra says he wanted debates on major TV networks," Tracy Samilton reports.

Meningitis cases continue to rise in Michigan

"There’s been a big jump in the number of people in Michigan affected by that national fungal meningitis outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control says 39 people in Michigan have contracted fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections. Just Wednesday there were only 28 confirmed cases in Michigan. Three Michigan women have died since receiving the injections which were intended to treat back pain," Steve Carmody reports.

Medical Marijuana discussed in Michigan Supreme Court

"The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether the state’s medical marijuana law allows dispensaries and growing cooperatives. The court heard arguments in two medical marijuana cases today Thursday. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. The operators of a marijuana dispensary are challenging the county’s decision to shut down their operation. A man who ran a growing cooperative is also trying to fend off a charge that he exceeded the 12-plant limit in the law. The court is expected to rule in coming months. In the meantime, the Legislature is also looking at adding some definition to the medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 2008," Rick Pluta reports.

A new TV ad for Senator Debbie Stabenow.
screen grab

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow are both far outspending their opponents on TV ads in Michigan.

That’s according to a report released Monday by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

The report says groups supporting Romney have spent about $13 million for ads in Michigan since the February primary.

The Obama campaign and supporters haven’t spent as much in Michigan, but Obama still has a lead among likely voters, according to most polls.

Rich Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Asian carp leaping out of a river.

Michigan congressman Dave Camp is calling out the Army Corps of Engineers for dragging its feet on a plan to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

Camp released a statement this morning claiming the Corps is ignoring the timeline for completing a plan set out in the Stop Invasive Species Act, legislation he wrote with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Camp’s law called for a plan to be in place by January 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Studio08Denver / Flickr

This week we saw the debate showdown between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney. Political pundits are talking non-stop about how Romney pulled off a campaign reversal. Debates can be game changers. And, then, there are the Michigan debates, or lack thereof. We have a statewide race that pits incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow against former Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra. They’ve both agreed to debates. They just haven’t agreed to the same debates.

It’s a debate… about debates

Hoekstra has the most to gain by debating. It’s why he’s pushing for more than just the two that he and Stabenow have agreed upon – at least in concept. One of those two debates, to take place at the Detroit Economic Club, isn’t really a debate but more of a joint appearance. As the incumbent with what appears to be a very comfortable lead,  Stabenow has the most to lose. Certainly we saw an example of that Wednesday night: the perils of a debate to a front-runner. So, it raises the question, if Stabenow has very little to gain from a Senatorial debate, why hasn’t Hoekstra agreed to dates for the two appearances both campaigns have accepted. Holding out certainly hasn’t seemed to help the Hoekstra campaign.

Foreign affairs

If you’re the Hoekstra campaign and you can’t get your opponent to debate and you’re looking for something that changes the conversation, pulls you out of a rut, what better than to take a few days to travel… to the Middle East; Israel to be exact. This past weekend Hoekstra flew to Tel Aviv in an effort to turn the conversation to a topic where he is taken seriously: foreign policy. When Hoekstra was in Congress he chaired the House Intelligence Committee and had a security clearance.

However, when Hoekstra returned from the trip and was asked about the officials with whom he met, he said he couldn’t say. He says this was because the trip was not State Department-approved and in order to get officials in Israel to speak with him, he had to promise them their anonymity.

Well, by now there have been a zillion analyses of last night’s debate, most of which agree challenger Mitt Romney came on stronger than a curiously laid-back President Obama.

There’s not much I can add to that except perspective. I have seen every presidential debate since they became a permanent part of our political landscape back in 1976.

Pete Hoekstra is running against Debbie Stabenow for the U.S. Senate.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra is trying to make foreign policy a bigger issue in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race.

Jobs and the economy seem to be tops in voters’ minds, and Hoekstra says he does not expect that to change.

But the Republican nominee says the recent turmoil in the Middle East should make President Obama’s handling of foreign affairs an issue.

Hoekstra says that’s why he staged a quick visit to Israel over the weekend to meet with unnamed academics and government officials.

Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee as a member of Congress.

He says incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow endorses the President’s foreign and energy policies.

“She’s continuing to send a signal that says, We’re going to rely on a part of the world that right now we’re screwing up. It’s going to be less stable. It’s going to be more anti-American, and that’s where we’re going to get our energy from,” says Hoekstra.

Stabenow says she thinks the President is doing a good job, and her campaign will continue to focus on jobs and fair trade.

She supports the use of more renewable energy resources.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers face some uncertainty, as a key federal agriculture policy expires at the end of this week.

Congress adjourned before passing a new Farm Bill.  The old federal Farm Bill expires September 30th.

Many programs affecting Michigan farmers will be disrupted if Congress does not agree on a new Farm Bill.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture committee. She worries if the House and Senate don’t reach an agreement the Farm Bill may be lost in the rush to avoid automatic tax increases and budget cuts at the end of the year.

David Defoe / flickr

Every Saturday Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about some of the biggest stories in the week's news. This week they talk about Michigan Farm Bureau endorsing Democrat Debbie Stabenaw for the US Senate race, the Kwame Kilpatrick trail and the slew of art story headlines seen this week.

Brother O'Mara / flickr

Kilpatrick trail starts today in Detroit

"A judge has denied former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s request to move his trial out of Detroit. The request for a change of venue was considered a long shot by most legal experts. Kilpatrick and his three co-defendants’ lawyers argued that media coverage of the trial had become “radioactive.” They said there was no way the defendants could get a fair trial in Detroit. But Judge Nancy Edmunds dismissed those claims, saying there was no evidence of “presumptive prejudice” on the jury’s part. Opening arguments are set for Friday. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, former city contractor and longtime friend Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit water department head Victor Mercado face a host of federal corruption charges. The federal government alleges the four men formed a kind of criminal gang—the so-called “Kilpatrick Enterprise.” An indictment accuses them of using that enterprise to “financially enrich themselves” through various schemes, including fraudulent water department contracts and a phony non-profit organization," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Stabenow endorsed by right-leaning Michigan Farm Bureau

"Michigan Republicans are doing without a key supporter in 2012. The right-leaning Michigan Farm Bureau is endorsing Democrat Debbie Stabenow for another U-S Senate term. Stabenow is running against former U.S. Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Stabenow is ahead in most voter polls," Mark Bashore reports.

Pledge of Allegiance bill sent to Snyder's desk

"Michigan is a step closer to joining the 43 other states that require students at public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day. The state Senate passed the bill yesterday and sent it to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. Supporters say it will help to instill a sense of patriotism in students. But a handful of Democrats say it’s a political move and a distraction. Another measure would require all classrooms to have a flag on display," Jake Neher reports.

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.

Debbie Stabenow maintains a lead over Pete Hoekstra in a new Michigan poll.
Office of Senator Stabenow

A recent poll of likely voters by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group has President Barack Obama and Senator Debbie Stabenow maintaining slim leads in Michigan.

MLive has the story:

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she will participate in two debates with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra.

Stabenow made the announcement this afternoon. Hoekstra has been calling for six debates with the two-term Democrat from Lansing.

Details have not been finalized, but the Associated Press reports Stabenow has accepted debate invitations from the Detroit Economic Club and Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.

wikimedia commons

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Ford headquarters in Dearborn Monday.

He was there, along with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and members of the United Soybean Board, to visit a Ford research lab and make a broader push for more “bio-based” products.

Vilsack says there’s “unlimited capacity and opportunity” in the bio-based economy.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A conservative group picketed outside U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s offices in East Lansing and Flint today.

The focus of the protests was Stabenow’s support for the federal health care law.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Tea Party favorite Gary Glenn announced yesterday that he is bowing out of the Republican race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by two-term Democrat Debbie Stabenow and that he'll throw his support behind Clark Durant. The Associated Press reports:

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Update 3:12 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) Congress has approved a measure requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to quicken development of a strategy for keeping the Great Lakes free of Asian carp.

Corps officials said in May they would submit a report by the end of 2013, roughly the same time as required under the legislation. But officials said they would provide only a list of options for Congress and the public to consider.

The legislation instead requires specific steps for preventing species migrations at 18 potential entry points, including Chicago-area rivers and canals.

11:29 p.m.

A massive bill, covering everything from highway spending to student loan interest rates to flood insurance, is set to pass the U.S. House and Senate in a rare show of bipartisan deal-making.

And tucked into the legislation is an act that would make the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers speed up their research and planning aimed at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) used his spot on a House and Senate negotiation committee to make sure the Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of the larger law.

The act was introduced by Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) earlier this year and would force the Corps of Engineers to draft a plan within 18 months---about a year ahead of the current schedule.

In a press release, Camp cast the Asian carp threat in both an environmental and economic light:

“Today Congress took an important step to stop Asian carp from devastating the Great Lakes ecosystem.  Over two years ago, a live Asian carp was found in Lake Calumet, less than six miles from Lake Michigan.  The responses so far have been temporary fixes when what we need is a permanent solution.  The Stop Invasive Species Act lays the groundwork to permanently protect our lakes and the $7 billion fishing industry and 800,000 jobs they support.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with blocking species transfer between the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tea Party activists say they are encouraged by the results of this week’s recall election in Wisconsin.       They say Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's victory will also bring change to Michigan.

jpwbee / Flickr

Day two of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual Mackinac Policy Conference is winding down but that certainly doesn't mean the politics at the event is slowing. In a special Wednesday edition of It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I take a look at the political gossip floating across the Island.