DETROIT (AP) - Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan won re-election to a third term Tuesday, defeating former Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra.
Stabenow ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and raised more than twice as much money as the former nine-term congressman by mid-summer, allowing her to lock up valuable air time for fall television advertising while Hoekstra battled for the GOP nomination.
Stabenow's advantage on the air waves became crucial when the two campaigns failed to agree on arrangements for televised debates. She insisted on two debates that would be shown on public television and Hoekstra argued for as many as six that would run on network TV. The campaigns pointed fingers at each other when negotiations broke down.
Hoekstra failed to gain traction with a series of Web ads labeling Stabenow "the worst senator," after drawing criticism with a pre-Super Bowl commercial that featured a young Asian woman talking in broken English about China taking away American jobs that even some Republicans said was racially insensitive.
The ads accused Stabenow of supporting higher taxes and blamed her for Michigan job losses. Hoekstra sought to link Stabenow to President Barack Obama in hopes of capitalizing on voter frustration with the economy, labeling her the "follower-in-chief."
Stabenow didn't run from the president, trumpeting his administration's financial assistance that helped the auto industry stave off bankruptcy. Obama also won the state Tuesday.
The senator portrayed herself as a moderate bipartisan and focused on her role as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She won Senate approval of a five-year food and farm bill with a provision making growers of specialty crops such as Michigan cherries eligible for federal crop insurance. The Michigan Farm Bureau, which usually leans toward the GOP, gave her a prized endorsement.
The candidates had accused each other of favoring policies that would damage Medicare, the popular health program for seniors. Stabenow said Hoekstra supported budget cuts proposed by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.