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.

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).
USDA.gov

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).
USDA.gov

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.

Republican Conference / Flickr

Five candidates have filed to run in Michigan’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. Yesterday was the deadline for candidates for most state and federal offices to submit their petitions to appear on the August primary ballot.

The campaign is already underway as the five GOP hopefuls appeal to prospective Republican primary voters. They’re arguing over who is the most conservative and who presents the best chance for the GOP to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Retired judge Randy Hekman says he’ll put his conservative credentials up against anyone else in the field.

“We’ve got 90 days to show who we are, how we differ from others, how we’re going to fix our country, move ahead and win this thing," Hekman says.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra, charter school CEO Clark Durant, businessman Pete Kontechy, and Gary Glenn – co-author of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions — have also filed.

“Jobs is going to be the Number One issue that I’m going to be talking about, but then you’ve also got some cultural issues. President Obama did me a favor last week when he came out and endorsed so-called homosexual marriage," Glenn says.

Their petition signatures still need to be officially counted and certified. Candidates also have until Friday to change their minds about putting their names on the ballot.

Steve Carmody

Tomorrow is the deadline for U-S Senate candidates in Michigan to file their petition signatures with the Secretary of State to get on the August primary ballot.

 

Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow is seeking reelection. A large crowd of Republican candidates is expected to be on the primary ballot.

Former west Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra filed his petition signatures last month.

Republican candidate Clark Durant filed his petitions today. The charter schools advocate says Michigan voters are ready to reject career politicians.

“People are tired of career politicians whether they be Republicans or Democrats,” says Durant

Durant has been actively involved with Republican politics for three decades, including previous unsuccessful runs for U.S. Senate and the Michigan Supreme Court.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will introduce a bill next week to prevent companies from getting tax write-offs for moving overseas.

Currently businesses can write off moving expenses on their taxes if they’re moving within or out of the country.  But no such break exists for businesses moving into the U.S.

“That makes absolutely no sense,” Stabenow said at a press conference Monday at Grand Valley State University.

Asian carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Last month, we spoke with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) about plans about a permanent solution for keeping Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a plan to give us specific recommendations on how to separate the waters… The problem is they say they won’t have this done until 2015. And, so, what we’re trying to do is push them to get this done much quicker,” Stabenow explains.

Now, we hear about legislation introduced in Congress by Senator Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up their analysis.

More from the Associated Press:

Legislation introduced in Congress would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up a study of how to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.

The corps has identified 18 locations where fish and other organisms could migrate between the lakes and other watersheds, including an artificial linkage between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin in the Chicago area.

Corps officials say they'll release their recommendations by late 2015.

Michigan's U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp say that isn't soon enough. They're sponsoring bills to require the corps to submit a progress report within 90 days of the legislation's enactment and a full plan within 18 months.

Scientists say Asian carp could starve out native Great Lakes fish.

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.

Every week Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of state politics. And, this week it's all about the political Catch-22 of running for office  as a 'political outsider.'

So, dear citizen, you think that things aren't working in Lansing or in Washington, D.C.

That's bad. Very, bad.

So, you decide to run for office. You file the paperwork, you campaign... and you win as a political outsider! Maybe, you even beat a long-time political incumbent. You're now off to the state Capital - or, even, the nation's Capital - and you're ready to shake things up.

That's good.

Well, actually... it just might be bad.

Why, you ask? Because the moment you take the oath of office, good citizen, you are now part of the system - you are a political insider. You, now, are an incumbent.

So, being a political insider is bad?

Not necessarily.

It can actually be good... take a listen (at the link above) and find out why.

Opponents of proposals for major changes to Medicare spent today making the rounds of retirement communities in Michigan.

They denounced the budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Under the Republican budget plan, future retirees would get a stipend to buy health insurance.   Its an approach Republicans say would hold down costs and begin to rein in the deficit.

Max Richtman  is the president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.   He says House Republicans want to do away with what’s left of the ‘New Deal’.

Kate.Gardner / Flickr

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the Asian Carp.

The invasive species is making its way up the Mississippi River and there’s concern that if the fish are able to get into the Great Lakes that they could drastically change the waters’ eco-system.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and Michigan Republican Congressman Dave Camp introduced the Stop the Asian Carp Act last year. The legislation required the Army Corps of Engineers to create a plan to permanently separate the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan.

Stopping the Carp

I spoke with Senator Stabenow this week and asked her where things stand with the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan. “The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a plan to give us specific recommendations on how to separate the waters… The problem is they say they won’t have this done until 2015. And, so, what we’re trying to do is push them to get this done much quicker,” Stabenow explains.

The Mississippi River: Not the only entry point for the Carp

A lot of attention has been paid to the Mississippi River as the main entry point where the Carp could get into the Great Lakes. But, Stabenow explains, “We also, now, are looking more broadly than just the Illinois River and the Mississippi River going into Lake Michigan. We’ve found that there have been some fish seen going across Indiana – in the Wabash River. At certain times, during the year, it connects to the Maumee River in Ohio and then actually goes into Lake Erie. And, so, this is a real challenge for us. There is, I believe, nineteen different tributaries and ways to get into the Great Lakes – that’s my biggest worry.”

Chicago shipping interests

Recently, we’ve been hearing more about the idea of permanently separating the waterways rather than a temporary solution. “I believe that we ought to be closing the [Chicago] locks until we get to a permanent solution. But, there is a lot of pushback from Illinois and Chicago,” Stabenow says. Those who work in commercial shipping in Chicago are against the idea of closing the locks. They say it would hurt their multi-million dollar business interests. “Personally, I’d say the other side’s interests are – not that we don’t respect them – but they’re small in terms of economic impact compared to what could happen having the fish go into the Great Lakes.

Tea Party activists from across Michigan will gather this weekend to pick a consensus candidate for U.S. Senate.

A crowded field of Republicans are on the August primary ballot.   The winner will face incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow in the November general election.

Cindy Gamrat is the organizer of Saturday’s convention in Mt. Pleasant.  She says they hope to pick a candidate to support now in hopes it will help Tea Party members to organize to defeat Senator Stabenow. 

"If we wait to really get behind a candidate after the primary, we only have a few months," says Gamrat, "That doesn’t give you much time to put an effective ground, grassroots campaign together.” 

Gamrat says the straw poll results will not be binding on Michigan’s Tea Party members to follow, but she hopes it will be enough to convince some candidates to drop out of the race. 

Gamrat says the group also hopes to hear from candidates in next week’s Republican president primary at their convention this weekend.

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."

Mark Brush / images from YouTube

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Donors have poured more than $150,000 into Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow's campaign in response to an ad run this week by GOP rival Pete Hoekstra.

The Hoekstra ad featured a young woman bicycling past a rice paddy and speaking in broken English as she thanks "Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow" for helping an unnamed Asian nation's economy improve.

The ad was criticized by Asian-American groups and others who found it racially insensitive.

Hoekstra's campaign began running a different ad Thursday that featured the U.S. Capitol and a
voiceover by Hoekstra.

Stabenow's campaign asked donors to help her raise $144,000 in response to Hoekstra's first ad, the amount his campaign planned to spend airing it.

Stabenow campaign officials report raising more than $150,000 as of Friday morning.

Republican U.S Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra is changing his campaign ad strategy - after a storm of criticism and mockery over a television ad deemed by many as insulting to Asians.

The ad depicted a young Asian woman riding a bicycle on a dirt road among rice paddies.  Speaking in broken English, the actress refers to Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow as "Debbie Spend it Now."  

A website featuring the ad was also taken down from the internet. A new Hoekstra ad makes no mention of the China ad, but does take on the criticism.

"In  spite of what the media says," says the ad, "this race is really our chance to tell Washington to 'spend it not.' Not on Obamacare. Not on a failed stimulus. Not on a Solyndra." Solyndra is a solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy after receiving federal loans.

Hoekstra's rival for the Republican nomination, Clark Durant, condemned the original China ad as demeaning and hypocritical.

Mandiberg / Flickr

Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra wants to be your next Senator. He’s currently running in the GOP primary to try and unseat Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Hoekstra’s campaign premiered a controversial ad yesterday that’s being called, “xenophobic,” “racially-insensitive” and a “mistake;” Hoekstra calls the ad, in which a young Chinese woman speaks broken English and thanks Senator Stabenow (in the ad, Stabenow is referred to as “Senator Spend-it-now") for helping the Chinese economy, “aggressive.”

As the political pundits are debating whether or not the ad is detrimental to the Hoekstra campaign – one thing is for sure: China-bashing is nothing new in Michigan.

While Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and I usually talk state politics on Fridays, we just couldn’t ignore this story. So, take a listen as we dissect the ad and take a look back at past political ads that have targeted various politicians and their relationships with China.

And, for some visuals,  here are a few attack ads from the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial campaign:

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Republican senatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra is defending a controversial television commercial attacking U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

He made statements during a call with the media today, you can listen to Hoekstra's statement in the audio file above.

The commercial aired during the Super Bowl and featured an Asian woman speaking in broken English thanking Senator Stabenow for sending U.S. jobs to China.

That ad has been criticized by Democrats, Asian groups and some Republicans as ‘insensitive’ and ‘racist’.

Hoekstra calls the ad aggressive.

“I’m excited,” said Hoekstra. “It has jump started the debate right to where Republicans, independents, fiscal conservatives, business people want this debate to go. It’s about stopping spending in Washington.”

Hoekstra is one of a half dozen candidates running for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in November.

The Associated Press reports a coalition of black ministers in Detroit is calling on U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra to apologize for the Super Bowl ad:

Rev. Charles Williams II of Detroit's King Solomon Baptist church where Malcolm X once spoke said in a Monday release that the woman's broken English in the ad is no different than "having a black person speaking in slave dialect.

If Pete Hoekstra does not see any wrong in this commercial," he said, "he doesn’t deserve to be in the race."

Republican Conference / Flickr

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoesktra's campaign aired a new television ad against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow last night during the Super Bowl. In the 30 second ad, a young woman of Asian decent speaks in broken English and calls Stabenow, "Debbie Spend-it-now."

The Associated Press reports that the ad is, "bringing charges of racial insensitivity. GOP consultant Nick De Leeuw flat-out scolded the Holland Republican for the ad calling it 'appalling.' De Leeuw opposes Democrat Stabenow's re-election but adds that "racism and xenophobia" aren't the way to go. Hoekstra's Facebook page says that those "trying to make this an issue of race demonstrates their total ignorance of job creation policies."

In the ad, the young woman says," Thank you Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

Though the ad aired during the Super Bowl less than 12 hours ago, in this age of instant web-based reaction, political pundits and reporters have already written dozens of articles about the spot:

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