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Michigan Republicans would choose former Gov. John Engler to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2012, a new Public Policy Polling survey found.
The Democratic-leaning firm tested eight leading Michigan Republicans from Dec. 3 to 6. The poll of 400 Republicans had a margin of error of 4.9 points.
PPP found in a poll Roll Call mentioned Thursday that Engler trailed a “vulnerable” Stabenow by 7 points in a general election. But this poll found 31 percent of Republican voters would choose him as their nominee. Engler served as governor from 1990 to 2002 and is a familiar name to Michigan voters.
No candidate has officially joined the race yet, so PPP’s Tom Jensen said the firm took suggestions on its blog and Twitter feed. It tested potential candidates who had run statewide but won’t hold office in 2011 and high-profile members of the House delegation, as well as businessman Tim Leuliette, who has expressed interest in running.
Outgoing Rep. Pete Hoekstra trailed Engler by 7 points. Hoekstra was elected to represent western Michigan in 1992 and lost a Republican primary for governor this year. He would be the best candidate against Stabenow, the poll found, losing to her by only 1 point, well within the margin of error. The third-place finisher in the hypothetical Republican primary would be Attorney General Mike Cox. He got the support of 12 percent of Republicans.
Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Reps. Candice Miller, Mike Rogers and Thaddeus McCotter finished in the single digits among Republican voters. Leuliette, meanwhile, got less than 1 percent.