When this election season began, there was every reason to think Michigan voters might be treated to one of the best races for U.S. Senate in recent years. But that hasn't happened, and Sen. DEBBIE STABENOW has earned re-election.
Ms. Stabenow, a two-term Democratic incumbent, is challenged by Republican Pete Hoekstra, a deeply conservative former congressman from west Michigan. Mr. Hoekstra won high marks from both parties as head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence in the frightening years after Sept. 11, 2001.
He showed an occasional willingness to defy the Bush administration when he felt it necessary, as when he challenged the one-size-fits-all mandatory testing provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. So in this year's Senate campaign, there seemed real potential for a serious statewide debate on important issues by two experienced candidates.
But from the start, Mr. Hoekstra has run a sorely disappointing campaign. He became a figure of national ridicule with a commercial that showed a woman, made up to appear Chinese, grinning and — in pidgin English — thanking “Debbie Spend-It-Now” for weakening the U.S. economy.
Since then, the Hoekstra campaign has seemed to lurch from day to day, parroting right-wing talking points, promising “solutions” without offering any, and running ads that claims his opponent is the “worst senator Michigan's ever had.”
Ms. Stabenow always has been more of a workhorse than a show horse in the Senate. She has quietly but steadily become one of its more effective voices.
Since she became chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Ms. Stabenow has assiduously cultivated farmers. She won bipartisan praise for shepherding a new farm bill through the Senate — legislation that has stalled in the House.
Earlier, Senator Stabenow worked with Canadian officials to reach an agreement to ban shipments of that country's municipal trash to Michigan.
The Michigan Farm Bureau backed the senator's Republican opponents in her past two elections, but this year reversed itself and endorsed Ms. Stabenow. That's the right call.
Michigan voters should give DEBBIE STABENOW another term in the U.S. Senate, both because she has earned it and because her opponent hasn't made a persuasive case for change.