Rep. Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Rep. Debbie Stabenow is challenging Republican incumbent Spencer Abrahams for his seat in the U.S. Senate. Known for her energetic and outgoing campaign style, Stabenow can't match the freshman senator's campaign fund, but she does have the attention of Michigan voters who want health care reform. She also has support from party leaders who see Michigan as a key state in their fight to win back control of the Senate.
With the help of Democratic leaders, including President Clinton, Stabenow has raised $6 million. That's a far cry from Abraham's $10 million treasure chest, but Stabenow has a strong voter base after a lifetime in Michigan politics, and supporters hope that public interest in prescription drug coverage for seniors will favor a Democrat.
As the Representative for Michigan's 8th district, Stabenow has painted herself as the champion of elderly voters burdened by the high cost of prescription drugs. When Stabenow filed petitions formalizing her candidacy, she surrounded herself with people who support an overhaul of the managed care system. And when the Democrats showcased her in a panel of congresswomen at the national convention, she talked about healthcare.
During Stabenow's campaign, she accompanied busloads of seniors to Canada, to buy cheaper prescriptions as a way of promoting the Democrat's plan for a Medicare drug benefit. Under that plan, seniors would pay a premium of $25 a month and pay for half of prescription drug expenses between $2,000 and $4,000. The government would cover expenses over $4,000.
As a Congresswoman, Stabenow has been an advocate for gun control, abortion rights and tax cuts for small businesses. She was active in helping wire schools to the Internet and in achieving a three-year tax credit for small businesses. She also joined Senator Carl Levin in introducing a food safety bill after Michigan children contracted hepatitis from frozen strawberries in school lunches.
Stabenow sits on the Agriculture and Science committees.
Stabenow won her House seat in 1996 by easily defeating incumbent Republican Dick Chrysler. Despite the district's reputation as a swing region, she won the 1998 election by 18 points.
Stabenow grew up in Clare, Michigan, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from Michigan State University. She was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners in 1974. She then served as State Representative for twelve years (1979-90) and a State Senator for four years (1991-94).
In 1994, Stabenow gave up her seat to run for Governor, and lost in the Democratic Primary to Howard Wolpe. He then asked her to join his ticket as lieutenant governor in the general election. The ticket was defeated.
Stabenow, 50, is divorced and has two adult children.