Rep. Hoekstra to Retire, Eyeing Bid for Governor
By Ben Pershing
The 111th Congress hasn't even begun yet, and it looks as though we already have our first Republican retiree of the cycle -- Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.).
Unlike some other members of his party who may choose to leave the House just because they're discouraged by serving in the minority, Hoekstra looks to be leaving with an eye toward higher office. Hoekstra told the Detroit News "he has held meetings with Republicans across the state, laying the groundwork for a bid for governor."
Current Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) will be term-limited out of her post in 2010, leaving a vacancy in the statehouse that Hoekstra and several other ambitious Michiganders could hope to fill. On the Republican side, state Attorney General Mike Cox has formed an exploratory committee, and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is also viewed as a potential candidate. Two Democrats -- Michigan State University trustee George Perles and Flint Mayor Don Williamson -- have already declared their candidacies, and Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) is also seen as a likely candidate.
Michigan has moved from swing-state status solidly into the blue category of late, as the sputtering economy has driven the state's voters into the arms of Democrats. Barack Obama won Michigan by 16 points last month, and the current debate over the auto bailout, which was scuttled last week by Senate Republicans, probably didn't help the GOP in the state.
Hoekstra's last term will be his ninth one in the House. He currently serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, though he would be term-limited out of that job after 2010 were he not planning to retire from the chamber. Hoekstra's 2nd district, which stretches along the shores of Lake Michigan on the western side of the state, has long leaned Republican. President Bush won 60 percent of the vote there in 2004, and Hoekstra has repeatedly been reelected with ease. But the economic situation and the statewide shift toward Democrats could conceivably put the House seat in play.
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