Cross-posted on Right Michigan at

What exactly HAS the senior senator from Michigan done for us in the last three decades?  That was Jack Hoogendyk’s question of Carl Levin during last night’s US Senate debate televised statewide on public television.  And if you missed it you missed out.  (And the AP has a recap for you.)

Jack is in an interesting position.  No one is giving him a snowball’s chance in Carey Torrice’s workout room of pulling off this upset and polls have him down more than a point or two, but that may have been exactly what freed him up to go in front of the cameras with both guns blazing last night.

Levin’s been there for thirty years.  What has he done, Jack asked.  Levin was on the defensive.  

Levin offered a broad defense of his longevity in the Senate, saying his seniority had allowed him to bring billions back to Michigan in special projects through the earmarking process that Hoogendyk derided as an abuse of the budget process. Hoogendyk said Levin had been ineffective, to boot.

“We still send a buck to Washington and only get 92 cents back,” he said.Levin said “I’ve been able to bring back a significant number of projects to this state that will help get this economy back on track.”

Of course that begs the question… exactly when is it going to get back on track, Senator?  For six years we were the only state OFF the tracks and now that the rest of the nation is joining us the economic forecast doesn’t exactly look like peaches and cream.  And Jack wasn’t done hammering.  Even when Carl Levin attempted to launch a salvo, Hoogendyk, thanks maybe to the way “underdog” status can free a candidate’s lips in public, fired back with pinpoint accuracy and devastating efficiency.


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When Levin wanted to criticize Jack’s opposition to a new $25 billion bailout for the Big 3 (maybe soon the Big 2), the good representative from Kalamazoo told the old man we need to address the disease, not the symptom.  

Hoogendyk said broader measures are instead needed: corporate tax cuts, less regulation and enactment of right-to-work laws.

Emphasis mine.

Ask yourself now, when was the last time you heard a candidate for statewide office utter the words “right-to-work” and mean them?  That was a stand-up-and-cheer moment.

Jack Hoogendyk took Carl to task for his ineffectiveness in office.  

Jack Hoogendyk took Carl to task for not supporting the troops in their mission in Iraq.

Jack Hoogendyk took Carl to task for pork barrel spending.

Jack Hoogendyk took Carl to task for supporting the $700 billion (plus) bailout.

You name it, the Republican hammered… and not on personality, but on principle.  

Now let’s be honest… we all know how this is going to turn out.  Levin has spent thirty years amassing a personal war chest still packed to the brim with nearly three million dollars and the good Representative is lucky if he’s scraped together $100,000.  Levin’s last challenger couldn’t keep the contest inside of twenty points.  If national polls are any indication, John McCain might be mounting one last comeback for the ages nationally but things could probably look a little bit better here in Michigan.  We are, after all, the state that reelected, on the strength of the union label, Do Nothing Debbie and Jennifer Granholm after two of the worst first-terms in office in political history.  But…

When you have a candidate on the stump and traveling the state speaking truth to power only good things can happen.  I’m not off my rocker and I didn’t lose my marbles… I’m not calling for a Senate upset at the polls in fifteen days.  But if we work on the assumption that the truth will set us free then Jack Hoogendyk is doing a service for the Michigan GOP far beyond playing the role of the sacrificial lamb.  

The MSM may have him stretched out on the altar but when Carl Levin approached it last night he found that thing still has a lot of life and it can’t help but kick a little sense into the electorate.

Thanks, Jack.  And keep up the great work!

And if you, fair reader, haven’t told Jack thanks already, do it here, and now!