Republican U.S. Senate primary heats up as super PAC money enters race
Prosperity for Michigan, an independent political action committee, has spent $275,000 to run ads in support of U.S. Senate candidate Clark Durant and against Republican rival Pete Hoekstra in markets throughout Michigan.
Funded by several Michigan business executives, Prosperity for Michigan is beginning to air ads criticizing Hoekstra for voting for earmarks and raising the debt ceiling as a U.S. Representative. They cast Durant as a better option for conservative Republicans to put up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
“Clark Durant is a true reformer,” an ad released by the Super PAC on Monday said. “Pete Hoekstra can’t fix Washington. He’s part of the problem. Clark Durant will.”
The ad echoed an official Durant commercial that attacked Hoekstra for the same issues. The Prosperity for Michigan ad also pledged that Durant would vote to reign in spending by rejecting debt ceiling increases and voting for spending cuts and against earmarks.
The Hoekstra campaign hit back soon after.
“Unfortunately, Clark Durant has decided to begin desperate attacks after poor fundraising totals, misusing donors’ dollars and his inability to connect with the public,” Hoekstra spokesman Greg VanWoerkom said.
Hoekstra said the focus of the primary should be putting forward the most viable candidate to beat Stabenow in November.
“People are asking for real solutions to the problems our country faces, and I have a proven record of getting things done for the people of Michigan,” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra released an ad Monday focusing on Stabenow’s support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derisively called “Obamacare,” contrasting with Hoekstra’s vote against it as a representative in 2010.
With or without Super PAC help, the Durant campaign is confident they will be able to financially compete with Hoekstra. They have pointed out that their $1.4 million cash on hand is in the same ballpark as Hoekstra’s $1.7 million on hand.
However, Durant and fellow U.S. Senate candidate Randy Hekman face an uphill climb to beat Hoekstra at the polls, according to a recent poll from Inside Michigan Politics.
The poll, conducted by Practical Political Consulting, found Hoekstra with an overwhelming lead, taking 75 percent of Republican voters, compared to 11 percent for Hekman and eight percent for Durant. Tea Party favorite Gary Glenn, who dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Durant, had six percent support.
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