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Stabenow won't run in 2024, decides to 'pass the torch in the U.S. Senate'

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks at a microphone.
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow has been in the senate since 2000.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she won’t seek reelection and will end her congressional career when her term is over in January of 2025.

“When my term ends, I intend to begin a new chapter in my life that includes continuing to serve our State outside of elected office while spending precious time with my amazing 96-year-old mom and my wonderful family,” the Michigan Democrat said in a statement released by her office.

Stabenow chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Her work in the Senate has focused largely on nutrition, mental health services, the Great Lakes and the state’s manufacturing sector.

Stabenow has been a U.S. senator since 2001 but her decades-long career has spanned local, state and federal offices.

Stabenow served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners in the 1970s before she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. She was elected to serve in the Michigan Senate, but served only one term as she launched a campaign for governor in 1994.

Stabenow lost the Democratic primary, but was selected by then-Congressman Howard Wolpe to be his running mate in what turned out to be a failed effort to unseat Republican Governor John Engler. The Democratic ticket lost by a landslide.

Stabenow staged a comeback in 1996 by unseating a Republican incumbent for a mid-Michigan U.S. House seat. She won re-election two years later.

In 2000, Stabenow unseated another Republican incumbent, U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham, in a tight race. Subsequently, she was challenged by Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard in 2006, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra in 2012, and businessman and Army veteran John James in 2018.

Stabenow said Michigan Democrats’ successes in the 2022 election convinced her this is a good time to step aside.

“Inspired by a new generation of leaders,” she said, “I have decided to pass the torch in the U.S. Senate. I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election and will leave the U.S. Senate at the end of my term on January 3, 2025.“

The Democratic and Republican candidates will be selected in August 2024 primaries. And while the slates have yet to take shape, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said the GOP will field a strong nominee.

"I have no doubt that Michigan Republicans will nominate a strong, competitive candidate with a conservative message that will resonate with the vast majority of voters in this state,” he said in a statement released by the party. “Republicans will not miss this critical opportunity to bring common sense to D.C. and economic prosperity back to Michigan."

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.