Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment

Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If it were up to former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), he might envision a different path to the Senate than challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) this November.

The newly minted Republican nominee has said repeatedly he supports repealing the 17th amendment, which allows the direct election of Senators, according to interviews he gave in the last year.

Hoekstra replied, “I think that would be a positive thing,” when questioned about the repealing the 17th amendment after a Jan. 28 debate at University of Michigan-Dearborn. Without the 17th amendment, the selection of Senators would fall to state legislatures, as originally conceived in the Constitution.

Democrats point to statements like these as evidence of Republican candidates moving far to the right in a primary, staking positions less palatable for a general election audience. For example, Democrats criticized the new GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin, for saying in May that he favors repealing the 17th Amendment.

In any case, Hoekstra faces an uphill climb to defeat Stabenow: Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic.

Hoekstra explained his rationale for repeal as a states rights issues — a common conservative argument to eliminate the 17th Amendment.

“Yeah, because what happens now is that a lot of the stuff where the federal government has assumed power, legislatures are absolutely pissed!” Hoekstra said after the Union Conservatives Debate in January. “Y’know, so, if a Senator had gone and voted for No Child Left Behind, the legislature would’ve said, ‘Hey man, you ain’t going back!’ In terms of getting back to Constitutional roots, absolutely. It’s one of the unintended consequences of making them popularly elected. Yeah, I think it’d be a good thing.”

Hoekstra gave a similar answer last November ?t=6m30s” target=”_blank”>in an interview with “Clarkcast,” a conservative talk radio show on WAAM in Ann Arbor:

“The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the House of Representatives,” Hoekstra told Clarkcast. “The end result has led to an erosion of states’ rights.”

A Democratic operative supplied Roll Call with the recordings of Hoekstra.

The Senate hopeful’s campaign responded by saying this issue will “distract” from more important ones.

“It sounds like Democrats continue to try to distract from the real issue of the economy,” Hoekstra spokesman Greg VanWoerkom said. “When Pete Hoekstra enters the Senate, his agenda will be passing solutions that will create jobs.”

Stabenow supports keeping the 17th amendment in place, her spokesman confirmed.

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