Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

July 13, 2014

Jack Lessenberry: Can Land reverse momentum in campaign polls?

When it comes to politics, things are never over till they are over, especially perhaps in Michigan.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, was down by a dozen points in the polls days before the 2000 election. She won.

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, chair of the prestigious Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, actually conceded defeat on election night that year. Except that he, too, won.

However, miracles don’t always happen. And so far, it looks very much like another name will be added to this list:

Pete Hoekstra. Jack Hoogendyk. Mike Bouchard. Rocky Raczkowski. Spencer Abraham. Ronna Romney. Bill Schuette. Jim Dunn. Jack Lousma. Phil Ruppe. Marvin Esch. Robert Griffin.

Recognize it? That’s the roster of Republicans nominated to run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan since 1972. These dozen names have something else in common, too.

Every one lost, most by wide margins. Since Richard Nixon was president, Republicans have lost 12 out of 13 U.S. Senate contests. The one exception: Spencer Abraham, who won in 1994, one of the two best years for the GOP in modern times.

Six years later, however, he was out of office; a loser too.

However, this year was supposed to have been when Republicans changed that narrative.

Their candidate, Terri Lynn Land, 56, was well-known and popular statewide, having been twice elected Secretary of State, the last time by a landslide in 2006, an otherwise Democratic year.

Her Democratic opponent, three-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, 55, was well-known only in those parts of Oakland and Wayne counties he represents. Twelve years ago, he lost his only previous statewide race, a bid for attorney general, after a weak campaign.

Land, whose father is a millionaire developer from the Grand Rapids area, was also attractive because of her ability and willingness to spend heavily on her own campaign.

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