LANSING -- Republicans got their man: Former U.S. Congressman Pete Hoekstra has launched a campaign committee against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.
"I cannot sit on the sidelines while the president and U.S. Senate mortgage our children and grandchildren's future," the Holland Republican said in a prepared statement. He declined our request for an interview.
And there's a general consensus that Hoekstra could be a contender.
"[Stabenow's] job rating numbers are such that it suggests that she may be vulnerable," says EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn.
Porn says a February poll shows Stabenow ahead by just 2 points against Hoekstra -- making him the first legitimate threat to her bid for a third term.
"An awful lot is going to depend on how voters view the economy, and whether or not they have trust in President Obama and Democrats vs. Republicans -- their plans for dealing with the economy," Porn says.
But political analyst Bill Ballenger says Hoekstra is not off to a good start, especially after announcing in April that he would not run.
"Now he claims he's back in, but it seems to me a little tepid and tentative," Ballenger says.
And then there's Stabenow's fundraising edge -- $4 million already in the bank. Hoekstra struggled to raise money in his bid for governor.
"She's a tireless campaigner, she's very bright, she's very energetic. But that doesn't mean she's invulnerable," Ballenger says.
He considers Hoekstra to be a strong candidate if he campaigns more aggressively, noting he finished second in last year's Republican gubernatorial primary.
Democrats have already begun their offensive.
"This is somebody who supported George Bush's effort to privatize Social Security, which would've wrecked it," Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer says. "He supported efforts to get rid of Medicare."
"Replacing Debbie Stabenow means we'll be one step closer to the economic recovery our state's working families deserve."
Let the campaigns begin.