PONTIAC — Pete Hoekstra, a former U.S. congressman, defeated Clark Durant of Grosse Pointe and Randy Hekman of Grand Rapids in Michigan’s Republican primary election for U.S. Senate.
Leading by about 20 percent in unofficial results, Hoekstra will now face incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) in November.
Hoekstra claimed the Republican nomination in a victory speech at about 10 p.m. Tuesday evening given to supporters at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint. About 38 percent of precincts were reporting at the time, according to the Associated Press.
Hoekstra thanked his supporters for helping him win, and pledged that Republicans — including Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president — will take back the U.S. government come November.
“We will be committed to bringing the solutions to America that empower the American people, and move the authority from Washington D.C. and move it back to grassroots America, where we will experience the change, and you will be in control of your future and not Washington D.C.,” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra was endorsed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum, a former candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Durant was backed by several national figures, including Republican Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. He also had the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee.
Durant is a self-proclaimed “rebel with a cause.” Despite his loss, Durant told the AP that he believed Hoekstra will clinch Stabenow’s senate seat come November.
“I think Pete will do a very good job,” Durant said.
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg, a long-time friend of Hoekstra and a guest at his watch party Tuesday evening, said in an interview he’s fully behind him in the general election.
“He’s not fooling around,” Knollenberg said. “Whatever he does, he does properly.”
Knollenberg pointed out that Hoekstra’s foreign policy experience is often overlooked. Hoekstra was chair of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence when he was a congressman.
“I think that he’s got this wind blowing, and he’s going to move in the right direction, and he’ll be OK,” Knollenberg said.
Rob Steele, a former University professor and a Republican candidate for the University’s Board of Regents, also made an appearance at Hoekstra’s party.
Steele said he supports Hoekstra because of his platform’s focus on national security as well as his desire to defeat the Affordable Care Act. He noted that he had not endorsed Hoekstra or any other candidate in the race but was asked to speak at the event on election night.
Steele said he’s confident Hoekstra will prevail but said he thinks the general election will be difficult.
“I think it’s going to be a tough, close election, and if we can get the information out on Stabenow’s record, it’s critical,” Steele said. “She’s been tough to beat in the past.”
The University’s chapter of College Republicans congratulated Hoekstra in a statement to The Michigan Daily.
“The College Republicans extend their congratulations to Rep. Hoekstra and all the GOP candidates nominated tonight in Michigan,” the statement said. “We’re excited for the drive to the fall campaign, but most of all for continuing and expanding the political dialogue here on campus.”