Perhaps one of the last hopes Republicans have for landing a high profile candidate to challenge Stabenow is former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, who made an unsuccessful bid for RNC chairman earlier this year and is currently the Republican National Committeeman from Michigan. If Anuzis doesn't run -- and with neither Hoekstra nor Land in the race -- Michigan Republicans could face the prospect of competing against Stabenow without a well-known candidate who enjoys connections to deep-pocketed donors in the state.
"Land's decision significantly changes the political landscape," Anuzis said Thursday. "It looks like I'll be working the phones a little more these coming weeks."
Several Republican members of Michigan's congressional delegation have been whispered as potential dark horse candidates, but so far none of them -- Reps. Thad McCotter, Candice Miller and Mike Rogers -- have demonstrated any public interest in challenging Stabenow.
Several well-informed Lansing insiders speculate that the eventual Republican nominee could be a private sector political neophyte in the mold of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) or freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who stunned the political world in November by knocking off Sen. Russ Feingold (D). Among the private sector names being floated are Dura Automotive Exec. Tim Leuliette, former Perceptron CEO Alfred Pease, and physician Rob Steele, who made his political debut last year in a failed attempt to oust longtime incumbent Rep. John Dingell (D).