Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra will run for the Senate in next year’s election in a bid to unseat Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat he describes as “the most liberal Senator in America.”
Hoekstra made the announcement of his Republican candidacy in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
Speaking for himself and Diane, his wife of 36 years, Hoekstra said, “We wanted to tell people we’re in this race, but we’re not fully organized at this point. But we soon will be and we put together a top-notch campaign team.”
Earlier in the year Hoekstra had indicated he would not run. He attributed his change of heart to “a tremendous outpouring of grass-roots support,” adding, “People . . . keep saying ‘Pete, Diane, we think you, maybe, made the wrong decision. Would you please reconsider?’”
Hoekstra said his answer was that voters had to give him a compelling reason to change his mind.
“The compelling case is the Obama administration policies which are supported almost 100 percent by the most liberal senator in the U.S., Debbie Stabenow,” he said.
“Guess what: She needs a challenge. She needs not only a challenge, she needs to be replaced. We’re willing to take on that challenge.”
Pundits believe Hoekstra has a great chance of unseating two-term Democrat Stabenow, and he is confident. “We’re going to be successful,” he said.
The only GOP contenders already announced for the Senate race are little known. Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch, former judge Randy Hekman, and party activist Peter Konetchy now have to decide whether Hoekstra’s name recognition is too solid for them to challenge him.
Hoekstra, 57, first got into Congress by defeating Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Guy VanderJagt in a primary. He sat in the House for nine terms but decided against running for a tenth last year, instead choosing to run for Governor of Michigan. He came second in the primary to eventual winner, Rick Snyder.
Hoekstra said Michigan voters will have a clear choice between him and Stabenow, the two-term Democrat who won 57 percent of the vote in 2006.
“She’s talking about bigger government. She’s talking about the federal government taking over healthcare, taking over student loans, taking over many aspects of the private sector,” said Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States with his parents at age 3.
“My record is very clear. I believe that America’s future, Michigan’s future, begins with the people of Michigan and doesn’t begin in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve got a consistent record of voting against tax increases, voting for smaller government, voting to move federal programs out of Washington and bringing them back to the local level. People forget I was one of the few people on either side of the aisle that fought the monstrosity called No Child Left Behind. It was a massive takeover by the federal government of local control of education.
“This will be a campaign of alternative visions for America. The choice couldn’t be clearer for the people of Michigan.”
Hoekstra said he believes he can help quell the bipartisan bickering that hinders progress in Washington, referring to the work he did as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee alongside Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and two Democrats to reform the intelligence community.
“We went through four or five or six months of tough negotiations and for the first time in 50 years we reformed the intel community. That structure, while far from being perfect, has kept us safe and has enabled us to kill bin Laden.
“But what I’m not going to do (is) sell out principle just for an agreement. We need to focus on good solutions that are really going to make a difference.”
On current issues, Hoekstra said he would have voted for cut, cap, and balance had he been in Congress, but he has serious doubts about the “Gang of Six” plan to reach agreement on the debt ceiling crisis. “On the surface, this is not a great deal,” he said, pointing to revenue increases included in the plan.
“When we had a similar kind of economic problems in America in 1995, we worked, surprisingly, with President Bill Clinton. What did we do? We reformed government, we reformed welfare, we lowered taxes and we cut spending and guess what, we had a boom in economic activity, which fueled tax revenues, which enabled us to balance the budget.
“Now we’re going to try a plan that increases taxes, doesn’t reform government, cuts a little bit of spending, but not that much.
“This is not about just raising the debt ceiling. What we need to do is we need to put in place a plan that grows America’s economy. That is what helps us address the fiscal problems of the country.”
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