2017-09-28 / Columns

Stabenow Seeks Fourth Term

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

U.S. Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, who since 1975 has been in local, state, or federal office, has been one of Michigan’s most successful politicians on 20th century ballots and now faces a probable fourth Senate term challenge against a yet-to-be determined foe.

One of the most impressive recent GOP names to surface is that of 6th District U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), who, in my view, is one of the most effective members of the Michigan congressional delegation.

“We’re actively exploring” a Senate run, Upton, 64, told The Detroit News on Tuesday, as he and fellow 12th District Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) were honored among the paper’s Michiganians of the Year for their commitment to bipartisanship in Washington.

There’s far too little of that bipartisanship in Washington and in national politics.

If Upton enters the race against Stabenow, as he is said to be leaning to do, he would join a GOP primary field that could include former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young, Farmington Hills businessman John James, who last week announced his “exploratory” committee, and Grosse Pointe businessman Sandy Pensler.

And then there is Michigan celebrity Robert Ritchie, known as Kid Rock in the entertainment world, who has long teased about running against Stabenow.

My view is that he would be wise to decline a run, but I note that several weeks ago a Target-Insyght poll of 822 likely Michigan voters, using his celebrity name, had him within eight percentage points of Stabenow.

The poll was commissioned by the MIRS subscription service.

On the ballot, Kid Rock would likely have to use his real name.

For a while, Bloomfield Township businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Hills considered challenging Stabenow, but instead is in the field to replace U.S. Representative Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), who is retiring at the end of 2018.

The Detroit News said the prospect of an Upton Senate campaign is already generating interest from potential candidates in his 6th Congressional District seat, including state Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph).

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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