Hoekstra faces forceful challengers in Senate bid

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, March 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

On Monday, Hoekstra's having House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin keynote his fundraising luncheon in Southfield. Ryan wants to gradually move away from Medicare to private health insurance for many seniors while increasing the eligibility age to 67 and charging upper-income retirees higher premiums, a plan welcomed by voters who worry about deficits and want federal spending cut.

Hoekstra struggled to raise money during his 2010 race for governor, so he's making a concerted effort to focus on fundraising in his Senate campaign. He has raised $2 million so far compared to $1.4 million raised by Durant, $70,000 by Glenn and $115,000 by former Kent County Judge Randall Hekman, one of several Republicans who also have been campaigning for the seat. Hoekstra has $1.5 million in available cash compared to $1.2 million for Durant.

Hoekstra's lead over his rivals is clearer when it comes to polls.

A Feb. 11-13 telephone poll of 500 registered voters who were likely to participate in the state's Feb. 28 GOP presidential primary showed 50 percent supported Hoekstra, 5 percent supported Durant and 2 percent supported Hekman. No other candidate, including Glenn, got as much as 1 percent.

But all of the candidates still have work to do to excite GOP voters. Thirty-eight percent of those polled were undecided in the Glengariff Group Inc. survey commissioned by The Detroit News, WDIV-TV and WZZM-TV. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

A Feb. 18-22 poll by EPIC-MRA that merely looked at the favorability ratings of Hoekstra and Durant found that 47 percent of likely Republican presidential primary voters still didn't recognize Durant's name, compared to only 11 percent who didn't recognize Hoekstra's. Nearly half of those polled said they had a favorable view of Hoekstra.

Federal election figures show that Stabenow, who's running for a third term, has raised $8.8 million and has nearly $5.9 million on hand. She's been running ahead of the GOP contenders in polls so far.

Follow Kathy Barks Hoffman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathybhoffman

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