Lansing American Family Association chief seeks Sen. seat

By David N. Goodman

and Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associate Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan leader of the conservative American Family Association announced Tuesday that he is running for the Republican nomination in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, while another prominent GOP figure withdrew his name from consideration.

Gary Glenn, the association's state president, said federal election law requires him to file a formal declaration of candidacy this week because he has raised more than $5,000 and launched a campaign website. The Tupelo, Miss.-based association is a strong force on the Christian right and has been active in fighting gay marriage, adoption by gay couples and individuals, and sexually oriented material.

Earlier Tuesday, Ypsilanti cardiologist Rob Steele -- who gave a strong challenge to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell last year -- announced that he wouldn't launch a Senate bid, saying his work was too demanding for a statewide race. He was the second person to pull back from the race since former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra jumped into the Republican race.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Glenn praised U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township -- the only one of Michigan's nine Republicans in Congress to vote against the debt ceiling bill, which President Barack Obama signed Tuesday. Stabenow voted for the bill.

"Over the last 20 years, Debbie Stabenow and Pete Hoekstra have both voted for budgets and debt ceiling increases that resulted in trillions of dollars of increased debt on our economy and our children," Glenn said.

Steele was encouraged to run after his strong showing in 2010 against Dingell, but he said he couldn't commit to a race "while serving my patients and colleagues."

"The campaign to defeat Debbie Stabenow will take a 100 percent effort, and right now I cannot give all of my time to a campaign," Steele said in a statement. "I will not run but I remain committed to the defeat of Debbie Stabenow and (President) Barack Obama."

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch withdrew last week after Hoekstra, who declined in April to enter the race, decided he'd run after all. McCulloch urged Steele and other active or potential GOP candidates to stay out of the race as well, so Hoekstra could potentially win the Republican nomination unopposed.

McCulloch said in a statement that the best way for Republicans to beat Stabenow "is to unite around one strong candidate."

Despite such comments, former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman and Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy remain in the GOP 2012 race. Charter school executive Clark Durant is considering joining.

Durant tried earlier this year to recruit Steele to run. On Tuesday, he said he was sorry his fellow Republican decided to stay out of the race. The Grosse Pointe resident, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and now heads the New Common School Foundation in Detroit, plans to announce his own decision by Aug. 15.

"I am grateful to those who have called to ask how they can help, and I am talking to friends and family," Durant said in an email Tuesday.

Stabenow, now head of the Senate Agriculture Committee, could face a tougher race in 2012 than she did in 2006, when she easily beat Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. Still, the Lansing political veteran already has $4 million on hand for her campaign and has held several hearings with farmers and agribusiness groups in Michigan this year.

Hoekstra, of Holland, served 18 years in the U.S. House and now works as senior adviser at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a law and lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.

Published: Thu, Aug 4, 2011