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His views were in line with his deeply conservative congressional district abutting Lake Michigan. But he’ll have to broaden his appeal to less socially conservative Republicans and independents if he wants to beat Ms. Stabenow, who upset Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham in 2000 and easily beat Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard in 2006.

Ms. Stabenow lost her own bid for governor in the 1994 Democratic primary but has never lost to a Republican during her 16 years in the Michigan Legislature, four years in the U.S. House and 11 years in the U.S. Senate.

The other Republicans seeking to unseat Ms. Stabenow are Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCullough, former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman and Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy. None of the three had more than $30,000 on hand, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.