The Campaign Spot

Hoekstra vs. Stabenow in Michigan?

Earlier today, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent along word that a new survey put the unfavorable rating of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, at 51 percent.

As much as that may spur GOP optimism, knocking off a Democratic incumbent in Michigan in a presidential year is a tall order, and the GOP was still looking for a top-tier challenger. Saul Anuzis decided against a bid last month.

The GOP still needed a top-tier candidate . . . until this afternoon. Michigan Information & Research Service breaks news that former congressman Pete Hoekstra will run for Senate. Hoekstra represented Western Michigan for 9 terms in a GOP-friendly district and ran for governor last year, winning 26.8 percent in a tough four-way fight in the GOP primary.

There seems to be a cascade effect going on in the Senate races for 2012. The GOP already has a near-guaranteed win in North Dakota, good chances in Nebraska, Montana, and Missouri, and competitive chances in Florida, Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Ohio and perhaps Hawaii and West Virginia. If Hoekstra can get up to speed, Michigan should be in that competitive pile. And at some point, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will have to triage and prioritize their must-win races.

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