Another GOP candidate enters crowded primary for Michigan Sen. Stabenow’s seat

  • Republican businessman Sandy Pensler has announced his bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Democratic four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow.
  • Pensler, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination for the same seat in 2018, joins former U.S. Reps. Peter Meijer and Mike Rogers, as well as former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, in the hotly-contested race for the potential swing seat.
  • The primary’s winner will face off against the Democratic nominee, likely either Lansing-area Rep. Elissa Slotkin or Good Doctor actor Hill Harper, in the general election.

Detroit-area businessman Sandy Pensler launched his second campaign for U.S. Senate on Friday, joining close to a dozen other Republican candidates in Michigan who are hoping to flip the open seat for the first time in over two decades.

Pensler lost the GOP primary for Senate in 2018 by over 9 percentage points to now-U.S. Rep. John James, who would go on to lose to incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Pensler poured millions into his primary bid at the time.

“The American experiment is in big trouble. It’s burning,” Pensler said in campaign video Friday. “I believe we can turn it around but we need to apply basic morals, take responsibility and fight like hell.”


Pensler joins a crowded field of Republican candidates that includes former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer and former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. The Republicans are vying for a seat that’s been held by Democrats since 2001 but that will be vacated by Stabenow, who is retiring at the end of next year.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairwoman speaks at a press conference on the introduction of legislation to help Americans with the nationwide baby formula shortage at the U.S. Capitol Building on May 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin has led a field of Democratic candidates that also includes actor Hill Harper. Slotkin had nearly $4 million more in the bank than any other Senate candidate through September, according to campaign finance numbers released in October.

Pensler owns Pensler Capital, an investment group, and The Korex Cos., which manufactures detergents and cleaners. In 2018, Pensler said that he contributed nearly $5 million of his own money to jumpstart his campaign.

In his campaign video posted to social media, Pensler said it was time to take “the Senate back from the morons.”


Former President Donald Trump’s potential endorsement in the Senate race could have a large impact in a state that he won in 2016. Trump endorsed James over Pensler in 2018.

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