By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit “Michigan Matters”
Race For Stabenow’s Senate Seat Could Be Fierce
As the names of Republicans raising their hands in hopes of taking on Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the 2012 race grows, expect a fierce contest when the last man is left standing as the sitting Senator is a relentless campaigner.
That assessment from Mike Cox, former attorney general and 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate, who made the comments during taping of “Michigan Matters” in his first TV appearance since that election.
Cox appeared with Bobby Schostak, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, talking about that race and others.
“Never underestimate her,” Cox said of the seasoned Democratic leader. “Years ago, I recall getting elected when she did. And she was out campaigning in every small town the next day.”
In case anyone needed proof, Stabenow, who has held the job
since 2000, is sitting on a reported $4 million war chest for the race which promises to be among the most high-profile and expensive in the state.
Cox, who said he has not endorsed anyone on the GOP side, said he thought the Senate was a better fit for former U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra who is among those trying to unseat her.
“He’s the real deal,” Cox said of Hoekstra as both men ran unsuccessfully in last year’s race against Rick Snyder for governor.
When asked for an assessment of the new governor, Cox said: “Snyder is doing an excellent job.”
“He’s the next best alternative to the job I would have done. He’s doing the things we need to do.”
Besides Hoekstra, others lining up to take on Stabenow : Gary Glenn, Michigan leader of the conservative American Family Association, former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman, Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy.
Clark Durant, the conservative CEO of Cornerstone Schools in Detroit, has yet to formally announce. But he picked up support from former Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis, former U.S. Sen. Spence Abraham and former Michigan Republican chairwoman Betsy DeVos.
The perpetually tweeting Anuzis sent out a missive Thursday talking up the trio’s endorsement.
“Hoekstra has great prospects,” added Schostak who as party chair won’t pick a candidate. “He just came off a state race, finished second but has great name recognition. He can raise money and work the state.”
Of Durant, Schostak said he was “formidable.”
Patterson, who started off supporting Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner John McCulloch (who then dropped his bid), is now lending his considerable support to Hoekstra.
“I like Hoekstra. He’s got the right stuff. I like Clark Durant too. But Hoekstra has name recognition and will be able to raise money,” Patterson said.
Schostak, an Oakland County businessman who took over as chair of the Michigan Republican Party in January, said of Snyder, “He is doing a great job. What Snyder shows is that leadership matters and makes a difference.”
When asked if there was any redeeming quality he could mention about President Barack Obama, who was in west Michigan on Thursday, Schostak said: “He’s a great politician and a great communicator.”
“The dangerous thing is what he says and what he does are two different things,” he said. “I think it is pretty clear he doesn’t have a plan (to get the economy going).”
Schostak was more upbeat about the 12 person debt crisis panel announced this week which includes two Michigan Republicans: Reps. David Camp and Fred Upton.
That panel is seeking to figure out how to trim the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion through spending cuts, new revenue or a combination of the two.
When discussion turned to the top race in 2012, Patterson, an ardent support of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the last contest, said he decided to support him again.
“He’s the right guy for the job,” said Patterson.
Schostak agreed that Romney is the presumptive front-runner at this stage, but added others like Ron Paul or Michele Backmann would also give Obama a serious challenge .
Of Thaddeus McCotter’s chances in the presidential arena, Schostak said, “Go Thad! He’s a great voice.”
Schostak said the Tea Party provided a reality check for the GOP and though the Tea Party supports a conservative social agenda, ultimately it will be the economy and jobs that will resonate with voters.
Cox, who has laid low since the governor’s campaign, is currently working at Dykema.
When pressed on whether he was done with politics, he said, “Never say never.”
“At the moment, I am more worried (that) I won’t get a word in edgewise with Brooks here,” he joked.
Of his role at the Detroit law firm, Patterson retorted: “I knew Mike was here when I saw a car with a “Slip and Fall? Give me a call!” license plate in the parking lot.”
Cox is involved with politics from the sidelines as he helps Schostak with “intra-party” Republican issues.
Patterson, who is also facing re-election in 2012, said he is ready to take on Gary Peters if the Congressman from the 9th District is left seeking another political job due to redistricting.
Rumors persist Peters is considering such a run.
“Hey, I ran against Peters and lived to tell about it,” Cox quipped to Patterson as he defeated Peters in his bid for Michigan Attorney General.
You can watch the recent “Michigan Matters” featuring Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer by clicking on here.
Carol Cain is Senior Producer and Host of WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters” airing 11 a.m. Sundays. You can read her columns on business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.