Michigan’s closely-watched Senate race will begin to heat up on Mackinac Island next week, when Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow is scheduled to share a stage with Republican challengers Pete Hoekstra and Clark Durant.
The trio is expected to join moderator Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio for a forum-style discussion on Wednesday evening during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference.
Durant, co-founder of Cornerstone charter schools in Detroit, is considered the underdog of the group, but while several other candidates were excluded from the forum, his polling numbers were high enough to warrant an invite.
Hoekstra, who gave up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to seek Michigan’s gubernatorial nomination, is no stranger to the Mackinac Island spotlight. He debated current Gov. Rick Snyder and other candidates at the conference in 2010.
While the chamber, whose political action committee is sponsoring the forum, rightly suggests that the Senate race “is sure to be one of the most watched in the nation during the 2012 pivotal election,” political projection guru Nate Silver is classifying the race as “likely Democrat.”
A March poll conducted by Marketing Resource Group suggested Stabenow would defeat Hoekstra by a five-point margin in a head-to-head vote and Durant by an 11-point margin.
Stabenow, who first took office in 2000 after defeating incumbent Spence Abraham, also is expected to join fellow Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Hansen Clarke for a Tuesday evening panel discussion on the ways Washington and Michigan can work together.
The Mackinac Policy Conference, which runs May 29-31, is an annual gathering of Michigan’s business and political leaders. While state lawmakers are expected to stay in Lansing to finish the budget, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and is scheduled to deliver opening remarks on Tuesday and a keynote address on Thursday.
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