Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., secured a third term Tuesday night with a victory over former GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra. The Associated Press called the race soon after polls closed Tuesday night.
Hoekstra, a former West Michigan representative who served nine terms in Congress and chaired the House Intelligence Committee, was positioned to mount a serious challenge to Stabenow, but his campaign stumbled out of the gate and support never materialized. Stabenow led in the polls throughout, and Hoekstra struggled to get within single digits of the incumbent.
Hoekstra first drew attention with an ill-fated Super Bowl ad some deemed racist, which featured an Asian woman speaking in broken English and thanking "Debbie Spend-it-now" for weakening the U.S. economy. After dispatching a weak field of GOP primary challengers, Hoekstra continued his attacks, labeling Stabenow the "worst senator ever" in an online campaign.
The campaigns failed to agree to terms on debates, with Hoekstra refusing to commit to the two Stabenow had accepted unless her campaign discussed participating in more televised debates. After a heated back-and-forth blame game, Stabenow pulled out of all debates, citing Hoekstra's lack of cooperation.
Stabenow focused her campaign on her accomplishments in the Senate, touting the Senate-passed Farm Bill she co-wrote and running ads portraying her as a defender of the middle class. Hoekstra attempted to tie Stabenow's policies with the sluggish economy, but lacked the financial resources to mount a widespread ad campaign.