(CNN) – It seems national Republicans have found a high profile candidate to take on Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as she fights for re-election next year.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra announced Wednesday that he's filing paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan.
"Over the last couple of years, the spending in Washington has spun out of control. Michigan needs a U.S. Senator who will cut spending without raising taxes and help create jobs," said Hoekstra in a statement. "Replacing Debbie Stabenow means we'll be one step closer to the economic recovery our state's working families deserve."
Hoekstra represented Michigan's second district, in the western part of the lower peninsula along Lake Michigan, from 1993 through the end of last year. He stepped down in 2010 to run for governor, but lost in the GOP primary.
Stabenow, who's running for a third term in the Senate, was first elected in 2000 and won re-election by 16 points in 2006. Prior to Hoekstra's entrance into the race, two of the top non-partisan political handicappers rated the race as favoring Stabenow. The Cook Political Report termed the contest as "likely Democratic" and the Rothenberg Political Report rated it as "Democrat favored."
Stabenow has a large advantage as of now when it comes to fundraising. She brought in $1.5 million in campaign cash the past three months and has more than $4 million in the bank as of July 1.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch, former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman and northern Michigan businessman Peter Konetchy have already filed bids for the Republican Senate nomination. But it's fair to say that at this point Hoekstra is considered the favorite to win the GOP nomination.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to respond to news that Hoekstra was entering the race.
"Lobbyist Pete Hoekstra has spent his career as an influence peddler for powerful special interests, all at the expense of Michigan seniors, workers, and middle-class. He took his record standing up for taxpayer-funded bonuses for bailed-out CEOs and giveaways for big oil and cashed out," said DSCC Press Secretary Shirpal Shah in a statement. "Pete Hoekstra may make a perfect lobbyist for special interests, but he would be a terrible Senator for Michigan families."
Democrats currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate. They are defending 23 seats (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) next year, with the GOP defending 10 seats.
- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN