A Michigan political tradition of sorts will end this year as U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Republican nominee Pete Hoekstra will not debate before the election.
The Stabenow campaign announced in a statement Thursday that it would not be participating in any debates after they and the Hoekstra campaign failed to reach an agreement on how many debates to have.
Both sides blame the other for failing to decide on debate times and locations.
Stabenow had previously agreed to debate Hoekstra at the Detroit Economic Club and at Grand Valley State University, the two locations of every Senate debate since 1996. Hoekstra had been asking for six debates, and his campaign says it had agreements with television stations to broadcast them.
“Unfortunately, rather than agree to continue Michigan’s tradition, Pete Hoekstra has instead chosen to launch repeated political attacks and has refused to even start negotiations,” Stabenow campaign manager Dan Farough said in statement, urging the Hoekstra campaign to move on because of there being little time left in the election season.
The Hoekstra campaign sees things differently.
“Michigan families should be appalled that Debbie Stabenow is attempting to cancel all debates,” Hoestra said in a statement. “She saw what happened in the presidential debate when the incumbent is held accountable for the failed Obama/Stabenow economy and she clearly now feels that she cannot defend her record.”
The two candidates have been locked in a heated battle for one of Michigan’s Senate seats for months, but Stabenow has held a solid lead in most polls all year.
A poll conducted for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV last week found Stabenow with a 12.6 percent lead over Hoekstra, 50.1 percent to 37.5 percent. The poll was conducted by Glengariff Group Inc. and sampled 600 Michiganders.
Similarly, an EPIC-MRA poll of 600 likely Michigan voters conducted for the Detroit Free Press found Stabenow beating Hoekstra by 20 percent last week, 55 percent to 35 percent.
Stabenow, seeking her third term as senator, has raised about four times as much money for her campaign as Hoekstra. As of their last campaign finance reports in July, Stabenow had raised about $12 million compared to the roughly $3.5 million Hoekstra had raised.
There is little reason to think that gap has closed much considering Hoekstra’s recent appearance at Oakland University with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Speaking before Ryan at the rally, Hoekstra urged those in attendance to donate money to his campaign to help pay for more advertisements.
Former president Bill Clinton recently attended a fundraiser for Stabenow in Royal Oak. The event raised $350,000 for her campaign.