Hoekstra to challenge Stabenow in Michigan senate race

at 05:40 PM ET, 07/19/2011

Republican former congressman Pete Hoekstra has changed his mind and will run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) next year, according to sources familiar with his plans.

Hoekstra, who had said in April that he would not pursue the seat, gives Republicans a big-name recruit in a race where the GOP had struggled to land a well-known candidate even as the race was starting to look like a real opportunity.

A poll released earlier Tuesday showed Stabenow has fallen out of favor with Michigan voters. Just 38 percent approved of her job performance, while 51 percent disapproved.

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Hoekstra is coming off a second-place finish in the Republican primary for governor in 2010, where he lost to now-Gov. Rick Snyder. Following that loss, Hoekstra took a job with a Washington law and lobbying firm — a decision that probably won’t help in the coming campaign.

Democrats instantly pounced on that fact as news of Hoekstra’s plans began to leak.

“Mr. Revolving Door – Pete Hoesktra is a congressman turned Washington lobbyist who has stood up for taxpayer-funded bonuses for bailed-out CEOs, tax giveaways for oil companies, and Republican efforts to privatize Medicare,” said a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Shripal Shah. “After his party rejected his bid for governor, Hoesktra is now shopping for another revolving door to pass through.”

At the same time, the former House intelligence committee ranking member is seen as a serious politician — if not a great fundraiser — who is good on his feet and should be a worthy GOP opponent for Stabenow.

 
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