Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 16, 2013

George Weeks: Sen. race highly competitive

By George Weeks
Syndicated columnist

---- — Despite dropouts of potential candidates for both parties, a highly competitive 2014 race shapes up for replacing retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator.

Democrats have essentially anointed three-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters of Oakland County, a former state senator and lottery commission, as its nominee.

It was a big loss for the GOP when seven-term U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Howell, a former FBI agent and state Senate Majority Floor Leader who now is high-profile chairman of the House Intelligence Committee with a record of working well with Democrats, announced Friday he won’t run for the Levin seat but would instead seek re-election.

However, 2003-2010 Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land of Byron Center, a former Kent County clerk and now Michigan’s Republican National Committeewoman and the only announced GOP Senate contender as of this writing, should be a strong contender, having won two statewide races and being effective in office and on the campaign trail.

She said, “We need conservative leadership now more than ever because of high unemployment, huge deficits and a spendthrift Congress.”

In his email announcement, Rogers said, “I believe my constituents sent me to Washington…to work to help improve the economy, crack down on wasteful Washington spending and keep America safe. With these marching orders, I believe that from my current position I am best able to have a real, positive impact on protecting our nation and its citizens. And with complex issues in Syria, Iran, North Africa, Afghanistan and China—intelligence issues will continue to be at the forefront of American national security concerns in the coming year.”

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin has been a leader in dealing with those issues on Capitol Hill.

Also looming as a possible Republican candidate is two-term 3rd District U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township in Kent County, a two-term tea-party type libertarian who, in my view, would not have the statewide appeal of Land.

Ex-Gov. James J. Blanchard, a Peters supporter, is among other Democrats ruling out the Senate race. As quoted by the Detroit Free Press, he said Rogers was “the only really strong candidate they could have fielded against Gary.”

However, Publisher Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics newsletter said Land, the only contender to have won statewide, could beat Peters. She considered running for governor in 2010 but instead joined the proposed gubernatorial primary ticket as potential lieutenant governor to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who lost to now-Gov. Rick Snyder.

Touting Michigan Abroad

Former businessman Snyder left Friday for his fifth foreign trade mission—a nine-day visit to Israel that he vows will produce more business and jobs for Michigan.

He’ll visit five cities and regions, and join a celebration of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday. His earlier missions included one to China.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist of The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington.His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated.

by Superior Features.