Debates and daily TV ad attacks are yet to come, but sparring between Republican challenger Pete Hoekstra and Sen. Debbie Stabenow is well under way and escalated last week.
Ex-Congressman Hoekstra, winner of a spirited primary, called for six debates, saying "it is finally time for Senator Stabenow to answer for her record in public. We need to go beyond the talking points of President Obama and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and discuss the solutions we need to get Michigan families working again."
There undoubtedly will be the traditional debate before the Detroit Economic club, and Hoekstra said there are invitations from associations and news groups, including TV stations in Grand Rapids and Flint.
"It's surprising Hoekstra wants to debate at all given that he wants to take away people's right to elect their senators altogether," Stabenow spokesman Cullen Schwarz told The Detroit News in reference to Hoekstra's comments favoring return to having state legislatures choose U.S. senators. (The 17th amendment, ratified in 1913, allowed voters to elect senators directly.)
"In any case, we look forward to the candidates debating and as with every statewide race, the campaigns will need to sit down with each other and figure out when that can happen."
Stabenow, in a fund-raising pitch, dissed Hoekstra's congressional record and her campaign unleashed a barrage of criticisms.
Her campaign manager, Dan Farough, said that after Hoekstra's 18 years in Congress and then working for a Washington lobbying firm, "It is no wonder he wants to end Medicare as we know it, privatize Social Security and raise taxes on middle-class families — all in order to give even more tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and special interests. The Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, in a commentary last week, raised an interesting issue:
"Sound familiar? It should. It is the same plan championed by Rep. Hoekstra's buddy, Rep. Paul Ryan."--the congressman from neighboring Wisconsin who is the running mate choice of Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney.