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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.

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:

Republican Conference / Creative Commons

(This post has been updated to clarify Hoekstra's campaign responded to requests for information; adds information.)

A West Michigan tea party group is hosting a major Republican forum this week. All but one candidate running to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate are expected to appear at a debate in West Michigan this week. The nominee will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow in the general election in November.

GOP Senatorial Debate

Jan 14, 2012

Five men hoping to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November spoke to Tea Party members Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant. The candidates included libertarian activist Scotty Boman; former Hillsdale College vice president Clark Durant; and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association.

The debate was sponsored by Michigan for a Conservative Senate and CMU Campus Conservatives.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra was not at the event. The GOP front runner has said he won’t participate in forums that are attached to a straw poll. The same tea party groups that sponsored the debate will participate in a straw poll next month to endorse a candidate.

USDA.gov

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow addressed agribusiness leaders yesterday at a conference in Lansing. Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee and is getting ready to start negotiations on the 2012 farm bill.

She said the rest of the economy benefits when farms and agribusinesses prosper.

“We know it’s one out of four jobs – that still surprises people when I say that, both in Michigan and around the country – one out of four jobs and over $71 billion in economic activity just in Michigan,” said Stabenow.

Stabenow said she wants to shore up federal support for agricultural research in areas such as bio-fuels. And she said farmers could use some federal help in managing the risk of losses due to weather and price volatility.

Stabenow is a Democrat who is expected to seek reelection in November.

Clark Durant is a man of ideas who is far more knowledgeable about American history than most United States senators I’ve met.

His office is filled with portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, together with photos of a much younger Clark with Ronald Reagan and Sandra Day O’Connor. He’s fascinated by Washington, D.C. and absolutely hates its culture.

This year, he’s running hard for the United States Senate, because he thinks his country is in great danger of being destroyed by debt and spending with no thought for the consequences.

And he believes that maybe, just maybe, he can do something to change that. “If this were just about trying to be one more Republican senator, I wouldn’t be doing this. I know I would be a freshman senator, bottom of the pack in seniority, at 63 years old."

The debate over how to extend a payroll tax cut is dividing Michigan’s congressional delegation.   

The U.S. Senate voted for a two-month extension over the weekend. But the U.S. House is expected to reject the extension this evening.   

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is among those who voted yes.   

“What we’re talking about is a tax increase happening on over 5 million Michigan workers come January 1 if this doesn’t get extended at least in the short run," says Stabenow. 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she’s “disappointed” the congressional super committee did not come to an agreement to cut the federal budget deficit.

Stabenow chairs the Senate’s Agriculture committee. The committee (along with the House Agriculture Committee) came up with bipartisan recommendations to cut $23 billion from the Department of Agriculture.

“We have done what we were asked to do,” Stabenow said. “We chose a different way…and I hope that we will see more of that because that’s what our country needs.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is hoping to provide a 30-percent federal tax cut to companies expanding in bio-based manufacturing.

Congress approved the tax cut for advanced manufacturers in 2009. Stabenow wants to renew that tax break and expand it for companies developing bio-based products. Bio-manufacturing covers dozens of products. The idea is to use crops like soybeans and corn to create prescriptions drugs, plastics, and soaps instead of refined crude oil.

“If we can get to 20-percent,” Stabenow said, “This will make a huge difference.”

Senator Stabenow talks currency manipulation

Oct 11, 2011

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on a bill that would punish China, and other countries, for manipulating their currency. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, has been leading the charge on the legislation.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she doesn’t know if the president’s jobs bill will clear its first legislative hurdle later today.    That’s when the U.S. Senate is scheduled to take a procedural vote on the $447 billion ‘American Jobs Act’.   

Stabenow, a Democrat, says she’d like to see the legislation move forward.  

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says it’s time to get tough with countries that flout international trade rules.

She’s pushing a three-part legislative package, the American Competitiveness Plan, that aims to crack down on those countries.

Stabenow singles out China as the worst offender when it comes to manipulating international trade rules to its advantage. But the U.S. government has generally been reluctant to take action.

Clark Durant Facebook page

Former Michigan State Board of Education President Clark Durant says he will formally launch his bid for the U.S. Senate tomorrow in Detroit.

Durant is seeking the Republican nomination to face Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) on the November 2012 ballot.

Durant is a former president of the state Board of Education. He made a failed attempt to win his party’s U.S. Senate nomination 20 years ago.

He also ran unsuccessfully for the state Supreme Court. 

President Obama signed the America Invents Act today which could establish Detroit as the first city to set-up a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outside of Washington D.C.

From the Act:

DESIGNATION.—The satellite office of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to be located in Detroit, Michigan, shall be known and designated as the ‘‘Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office’’.

user wallyg / Flickr

Patent legislation that had a big push from Michigan’s research universities and the Detroit automakers has been signed into law.

The “America Invents Act” promises to speed up the patent process, and help reduce a backlog of some 700,000 patent applications in Washington D.C.

Part of that includes opening a satellite patent office in Detroit and two other locations.  

"It really puts the patent office in one of the invention centers of the nation, which is the Detroit area," said Steve Forrest, vice president for research at the University of Michigan.

Republican candidates hoping to unseat U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2012 held an unofficial debate in West Michigan this week. The Gerald R. Ford Republican Women’s Club hosted the event. The “Ford Women” of the club aren’t set on which man will make the best candidate.

Snyder endorses Hoekstra

Aug 29, 2011
Republican Conference / Flickr

Update 3:23

Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber covered today's announcement. She reports Hoekstra says he and Snyder became friends after running against each other in a “hard-fought” primary for Governor last year:

“Isn’t it great that two people can go through a campaign, they can go through a primary, and at the end of that process they actually like each other, they actually have respect for each other, because they went through it in a way that the people of Michigan respected.”

Hoekstra said he does not think Snyder’s sinking approval rating will have a negative impact on his campaign for Senate. In his remarks, the governor reciprocated Hoekstra's admiration. Snyder said the experience of gave him respect for Hoekstra:

"Being one of our senators is critically important to our state, so I felt it was appropriate to speak up on this. And it was so easy to speak up. This is a case where we have a compelling candidate.”

6:22 am

Governor Rick Snyder has scheduled a press conference today to endorse former Congressman Pete Hoekstra in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Michigan Radio was first to report the endorsement earlier this month.

Snyder and Hoekstra first got to know each other last year as rivals for the Republican nomination for governor. Snyder won, but people close to the governor say he walked away from the campaign with respect for Hoekstra. They say Snyder praised Hoekstra as a results-oriented congressman with a history of rising above partisan interests to get things done.

The endorsement will put the governor at odds with other Michigan Republican power players. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis, and ex-Senator Spencer Abraham – all former GOP party chairs – are backing school choice advocate Clark Durant.

Former Judge Randy Hekman, anti-gay rights activist Gary Glenn, and Roscomman businessman Peter Konetchy are also vying for the nod to face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow next year.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Tea Party Express will roll back into Michigan next week.     The conservative political activists hold rallies featuring fiery speeches and patriotic music.  Previous visits have focused on health care reform and government spending. This time the focus will be on Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

Levi Russell is a Tea Party Express spokesman.   He says the Tea Party group is hoping to rally local conservatives to work to defeat Stabenow’s re-election bid next year. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senator Debbie Stabenow visited a farm in West Michigan Monday to discuss how to expand the agriculture industry.

Stabenow is chairwoman the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“We all have a stake in our farmers doing well because we all have a stake in having food security, in making sure we have wholesome, American grown, Michigan grown food for us.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the events in Libya this weekend vindicate President Obama’s decision to support NATO’s involvement there.  

“I think it does indicate that the president was correct…well obviously…it was a very very difficult situation…a very difficult decision for him to make…but it was the right one.”

Initially, the U.S. supervised a “No Fly Zone”  which prevented Libyan government troops from attacking disorganized rebel forces.  Eventually, NATO took control of air operations over Libya. 

Durant says Washington needs "ordinary citizens"

Aug 19, 2011
en.wikipedia.org

The latest Republican candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says it’s time for regular citizens – like him -- to get into politics.  Clark Durant says he’s running for office because he’s tired of government getting in the way of citizens trying to build their dreams.

"I tremble for my country," Durant says. "Our government is overspending, has grown too fast and taxes too much. Ordinary people are having a hard time putting bread on the table and making ends meet, and our government is extravagant.”

Durant says there’s a danger of inflation unless the U.S. stops expanding its money supply.

The Grosse Pointe charter school executive has the endorsement of several influential Michigan Republican party officials. However, Gov. Snyder has thrown his support to former Cong. Pete Hoekstra.

Another candidate has entered the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - Clark Durant, a charter school executive in Detroit.

This from Saul Anuzis' blog site (Anuzis is the chairman of the Michigan Republic Party):

Today, Clark Durant filed the necessary paperwork to begin organizing a campaign for Michigan’s United States Senate seat.

Durant filed Articles of Incorporation and a Statement of Candidacy for “The American Way—Durant 2012.” The formal announcement is expected after Labor Day.

Durant's candidacy is backed by some prominent Republicans in the state.

Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, Betsy Devos, former chairwoman of the MRP, and former Republican Senator Spence Abraham all have thrown their support behind Durant.

The Associate Press reports that Durant's candidacy will increase the chances for a hard fought Republican primary against presumptive front runner former Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

Here's a little more background on Durant from the AP:

The Grosse Pointe resident is president of the New Common School Foundation in Detroit and helped found Cornerstone Schools. He last ran for U.S. Senate in 1990, narrowly losing the GOP primary.

The field of Republican Senate candidates also includes former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman, Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy and Midland resident Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

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