Michigan Democratic Party Press Release – ICYMI: Hoekstra on the Hot Seat for Supporting 17th Amendment Repeal
In case you missed it, Pete Hoekstra took serious flack from the media this week after Roll Call reported that he wants to repeal the 17th Amendment. Despite repeated opportunities, both on radio and in print, to recant his out-of-the-Michigan-mainstream belief, Hoekstra has stood by his position. Ratified in 1913, the 17th Amendment gives voters the power to elect U.S. Senators. Without it, Senators would be appointed by the State Legislature.
This out-of-the-Michigan-mainstream idea comes on the heels of a litany of others including: ending equal pay protections for women, creating a federal Birther Office to check presidential birth certificates, outlawing birth control, and many others.
See below for coverage of Hoekstra’s 17th Amendment position that runs far outside the Michigan mainstream:
Roll Call: GOP Senate Candidates Advocate 17th Amendment Repeal
Roll Call: Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment
Huffington Post: Pete Hoekstra: Repealing The 17th Amendment ‘Would Be A Positive Thing’
Free Press: U.S. Senate Race: Hoekstra says states would do better appointing their senators
MLive: Democrats criticize Pete Hoekstra after report highlights his position on electing U.S. senators
Examiner: Hoekstra wants to take away Michiganders’ voting rights
MIRS: Hoekstra Spox: 17th Amendment Talk Is Distraction
GOP Senate Candidates Advocate 17th Amendment Repeal
How would the Senate look without Senators elected by voters?
Before the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, that’s exactly how it worked, with increasingly corrupt state legislatures picking Senators.
While there’s no chance of the amendment being repealed, a small number of Republican Senate candidates are coming under fire for even broaching the subject.
The Michigan Democratic Party held a conference call this morning in reaction to a Roll Call report that former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who is challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), is championing a repeal of the direct election of Senators. On the call, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer charged Hoekstra with hypocrisy.
“We should be focused on jobs and the economy, not taking away people’s right to vote for their U.S. Senators like Hoekstra proposes. It’s hypocritical that Hoekstra is running for Senate but would then take away the public’s right to vote for this office if elected,” Brewer said.
Last November, Hoekstra told a conservative talk radio program on WAAM in Ann Arbor that allowing people to elect their own Senators weakened the power of the states relative to the federal government.
“The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the House of Representatives,” Hoekstra said. “The end result has led to an erosion of states’ rights.”
Hoekstra is not the only Republican Senate nominee to express such opinions. And their Democratic opponents are attempting to profit.
In Arizona, presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Richard Carmona has circulated a Huffington Post story that cited Rep. Jeff Flake (R), his presumed general election opponent, making similar comments to conservative supporters last week.
Rep Todd Akin, the GOP nominee facing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri this fall, signaled during a primary debate in May that he might favor repeal.
“I don’t think the federal government should be doing a whole lot of things that it’s doing,” Akin said on KY3. “It might well be that a repeal of the 17th Amendment might tend to pull that back, but I haven’t written any thesis on it or anything like that.”
Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee for Senate in Indiana, expressed similar sentiment in a February 2012 appearance that he said was sure to get the attention of Democrats tracking his campaign events. Mourdock, however, seemed to have thought through the issue.
“The House of Representatives was there to represent the people. The Senate was there to represent the states,” Mourdock said.
The framers designed the Constitution to have state legislators select Senators in order to strengthen the power of state governments. The theory was that Senators dependent on the state government for reappointment would not support taking too much power away from the states.
“It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems,” James Madison wrote when he addressed the question in the Federalist Papers.
Mourdock said another benefit of appointing Senators would be to reduce the influence of campaign money.
“In today’s world, we see millions and millions of dollars spent on Senate campaigns,” Mourdock said. “Two years ago, in 2010, Sharron Angle out in Nevada spent $31 million dollars, just herself. How much money would be spent in federal Senate races if the state legislators were electing those people. You just took the money out of politics.”
However, the progressive movement of the early 20th century pushed to require that Senators be popularly elected precisely because money had become a corrupting force within the state legislatures.
State legislatures and potential Senators regularly faced charges of buying and selling Senate seats. The Senate historical office has written that bribery became a common occurrence and part of the game.
For instance, with the states soon to consider the constitutional amendment to subject Senators to the voters, the Senate expelled Sen. William Lorimer (R-Ill.) in 1912. Newspapers discovered that supporters paid about $100,000 to secure the selection of Lorimer by the Illinois Legislature.
In many states, Senate seats that become vacant during a term may still be filled by appointment, as was the case when former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed fellow Democrat Roland Burris to serve out the term of President Barack Obama apparently after being unable to find a bidder for the office.
Based on the pay schedule from the Lorimer case, Balgojevich may have undervalued the Senate seat. Federal investigators found Blagojevich was seeking $1.5 million in benefits and contributions for the seat. By contrast, Lorimer’s associates would have paid almost $2.4 million in today’s money for the office.
Blagojevich was sentenced in December to 14 years in federal prison after being convicted of public corruption charges, including the scheme to sell the Senate seat.
The questions about the way Senators are elected did not originate this cycle.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told CNN as a Senate candidate in July 2010 that he would support rolling back the constitutional change.
“I do think the 17th Amendment was a mistake,” Lee said. “I do think that we lost something when we adopted it, but I don’t think that in our lifetimes we’re going to see any movement afoot to do that.”
Michigan: Pete Hoekstra Not a Fan of 17th Amendment
By Shira Toeplitz
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.”
“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.
Pete Hoekstra: Repealing The 17th Amendment ‘Would Be A Positive Thing’
The Huffington Post
By Alexander Becker
If Pete Hoekstra had his way, he wouldn’t have to campaign for a seat in the Senate right now. Instead, he would simply be chosen by the state legislature to represent Michigan.
The 17th amendment gives the public the right to directly elect its senators. Hoekstra has repeatedly said he would like to see this amendment repealed.
“I think that would be a positive thing,” Hoekstra said regarding repeal during a January debate.
If the public lost the ability to choose its own senators, each state’s delegation would most likely line up with the partisan make-up of the state legislature.
“The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the House of Representatives,” Hoekstra told Michigan conservative radio show Clarkcast, as reported by Roll Call on Monday. “The end result has led to an erosion of states’ rights.”
Democrats were quick to criticize Hoekstra’s views, saying that any move to repeal the 17th amendment would ultimately lead to voter disenfranchisement.
“Here again we see Pete Hoekstra offering another bizarre idea that will give more power to the insiders and the special interests taking power from the people of Michigan, and [which] does absolutely nothing to create jobs or strengthen the middle class,” Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer told reporters on a conference call.
Hoekstra has joined a growing number of Republicans demanding the 17th amendment be struck down, with many arguing the law infringes on fundamentalist views of state’s rights.
As PoliticMo reported, Missouri congressman and GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) has voiced his support for a 17th amendment repeal. “I have a very serious concern about erosion of states rights, and reversing this [amendment] might pull that balance back.”
The Payson Roundup reported that Senate candidate Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would also rather state legislatures choose U.S. senators instead of the voting public.
U.S. Senate Race: Hoekstra says states would do better appointing their senators
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Democrats attacked Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra Monday for supporting repeal of the 1913 Constitutional amendment that made Senate seats elected, not appointed, offices. Hoekstra’s campaign dismissed the issue as a distraction from more important matters.
Prior to 1913, U.S. Senators were appointed by state legislatures, but the amendment to the constitution was passed to switch to a popular vote in an effort to avoid the possible corruption that a legislative appointment might invite.
Hoekstra’s support for repealing the amendment was pointed out Monday by the political newsletter Roll Call, which noted that his position echoes a view popular with tea party voters, who believe the direct election process diminshes states’ rights.
“The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the U.S. House of Representatives,” Hoekstra, a former House member, said in radio interview in November. “And the end result led to the erosion of states’ rights.”
Michigan Democrats cited the comments as another “out-of-the-mainstream” position for Hoekstra, who won last week’s Republican primary to face incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow in the fall Senate election.
“The hypocrisy here is astounding,’ said Michigan Democratic party Chairman mark Brewer. “Hoekstra wants Michigan residents to vote for him for the Senate, but then, if he’s elected, he would turn around and take away that right.
Hoekstra campaign spokesman Greg Van Woerkom said “”Democrats will do anything to distract from Sen. Stabenow’s failed economic policies. People are ready to talk about the real solutions that will get Michigan families working again and those solutions will be Pete Hoekstra’s agenda as Michigan’s next Senator.”
Democrats criticize Pete Hoekstra after report highlights his position on electing U.S. senators
MLive – Grand Rapids Press
By Tim Martin
LANSING, MI – Democrats are criticizing Republican Pete Hoekstra for his comments earlier this year related to whether U.S. senators should be elected directly by voters.
The publication Roll Call on Monday reported that Hoekstra has said he supports repealing the 17th amendment, which allows for the direct election of senators by popular vote.
Prior to the 17th amendment, which was ratified in 1913, U.S. senators were chosen by state legislatures.
Roll Call says Hoekstra, a former U.S. congressman from Holland, faces an “uphill climb” to beat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November. The publication rates the Hoekstra-Stabenow race as “likely Democratic.”
Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer calls the Hoekstra position “shocking” and “out-of-the-mainstream.” Brewer also said the stance is hypocritical, since Hoekstra is asking voters to support him in November.
Hoekstra easily won last week’s U.S. Senate Republican primary, setting up a November matchup against Stabenow in the November election.
In a statement Monday, Hoekstra campaign spokesman Greg VanWoerkom said Democrats were trying to create a distraction.
“It is clear that Democrats will do anything to distract from Sen. Stabenow’s failed economic record,” VanWoerkom said in a statement. “People are ready for real solutions that will get Michigan families working again and that will be Pete Hoekstra’s focus as Michigan’s next Senator.”
Roll Call said that Hoekstra has explained his rationale for repeal as a states rights issue. A repeal of the 17th amendment also would be a move back to the original provisions of the Constitution.
Stabenow is seeking her third term in the U.S. Senate. Stabenow supports keeping the 17th amendment in place.
On Monday, Stabenow again was scheduled to discuss her farm bill legislation at an event in the Lansing area.
Stabenow’s agriculture bill — which would last for a five-year period — has passed the U.S. Senate, but not the U.S. House. She wants the House to pass the full legislation.
House Republicans have not been able to find unity on issues such as food stamps and farm subsidies.
Hoekstra wants to take away Michiganders’ voting rights
By Peter Schinkai
Pete Hoekstra would like to take away voting on U.S. Senators.
Pete Hoekstra wants you to vote for him, and then he’d like to turn around and take away your democratic rights.
The political newsletter Roll Call, published a story on Monday detailing a radio interview that Hoekstra gave back in November. In the interview, Hoekstra said that he’d like to repeal the 1913 amendment that let citizens vote for their senators. Prior to that, senators were appointed.
“The direct election of U.S. Senators made the U.S. Senate act and behave like the U.S. House of Representatives,” Hoekstra said in the interview. And the end result led to the erosion of states’ rights.”
Where can you even begin to break down this statement? First, Hoekstra has decided that there is something wrong with the House of Representatives, which is doubly puzzling since he’s a former Representative.
Far more alarming though is that someone would run for any sort of office in the United States, on a major party platform, while denouncing democracy. His argument that voting leads to an erosion of “states’ rights” is downright scary, but sadly, not out-of-line with modern Republican thinking in Michigan. Our own governor is working diligently to erode democracy through his Emergency Mangers, the Republicans on the Michigan Board of Canvassers tried to circumvent the democratic process over a vague, “font” issue and of course Thaddeus McCotter let his staff run rampant with petition fraud.
So, as Hoekstra continues to attack Debbie Stabenow, a civil servant who has served Michiganders in an elected office since 1975, the question becomes, why should anyone listen or vote for you?
Hoekstra Spox: 17th Amendment Talk Is Distraction
GOP U.S. Senate candidate Pete HOEKSTRA “has never exerted any energy” on a push to repeal the 17th Amendment, Hoekstra’s spokesman, Greg VanWOERKOM said Monday.
“He’s never exerted any energy on this issue,” VanWoerkom said of Hoekstra. VanWoerkom added, “He’s focused on economic policy.”
The amendment, which enables voters to directly elect their U.S. senators, was in the news on Monday after the Washington, D.C.-based Roll Call published an article, “Pete Hoekstra not a fan of the 17th Amendment,” and the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) held a conference call about it.
According the article, in January, Hoekstra said repealing the amendment would be “a positive.” In another interview, Hoekstra said the amendment, which was ratified in 1913, was part of an erosion of states’ rights. The 17th Amendment has been a rallying cry for many Tea Party activists.
Without the 17th Amendment, state legislatures would have the responsibility to choose their states’ U.S. senators.
MDP Chairman Mark BREWER criticized Hoekstra for urging voters to elect him to the U.S. Senate, while also wanting to take away their rights to elect senators.
“The hypocrisy here is outstanding,” Brewer said.
Brewer also argued that the legislatures choosing senators was a “corrupt” process when it occurred more than a century ago.
Hoekstra is challenging incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Lansing) this fall. Democrats have seized on a number of Hoekstra’s positions, including his opposition to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and conflicting statements on drilling in the Great Lakes. The MDP is set to release on Tuesday a web ad detailing Hoekstra’s “greatest hits.”
Source: Press Release – Michigan Democratic Party
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