Former Michigan state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk is likely to announce next week that he will challenge Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in the GOP primary in August.
Hoogendyk unsuccessfully challenged Upton for the seat two years ago, when he was able to garner only 43 percent of the vote, in spite of significant support from the tea party movement. Upton out-raised and outspent Hoogendyk -- with Upton reporting $2 million in fundraising and spending to Hoogendyk's $62,000.
The über-conservative former lawmaker is expected to announce his decision Jan. 17 at a noon press event in Kalamazoo, according to an email sent by Steven Mobley, Calhoun County Republican Party chair.
If Hoogendyk tosses his hat in the ring again, he is likely to come to the fight with a much larger war chest. He has been openly courted by the conservative political action committee Club for Growth, which has recently launched a two-week television commercial campaign accusing Upton of being "liberal." The group met with Hoogendyk in November, reports MLive.com, and while it did not issue an endorsement, the PAC did say that it was "impressed" with him.
While he has been out of the state legislature for four years, Hoogendyk has been anything but invisible. He spoke at a tea party rally protesting Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's final state of the state speech; has been actively engaged in pushing right-to-work legislation; and in November took heat for funding robocalls, which were said to have killed a local school millage election, reported Joyce Pines of the Kalamazoo Gazette. Those same robocalls may also have violated federal regulations.
Hoogendyk is anti-gay, anti-union, and anti-abortion-rights. He staunchly supports limited government and home schooling. His wife, Erin, home-schooled all of their children -- in the Mattawan school district, where he reportedly helped kill the millage election.
Mobley's email follows:
Two years ago, after much urging by friends and a lot of time in contemplation, Jack Hoogendyk made the decision to run for the 6th District Congressional seat. He did so because he felt that it was time for someone to stand on the principles of Freedom and Liberty that are a part of the foundation of our country. He also believed that it was vital to return the government "To the People" and that our nation was in need of strong leadership that would fight for those principles.
Now, two years later, we find ourselves facing much of the same. Leadership that is backing down and giving in to policies that will drive us further away from our independence. Leadership that is accepting status quo as good enough. Leadership that is not willing to fight with every fiber of their being to turn this nation around and Jack is once again listening to the urging of those asking him if he will fight for us.
Jack and Erin have spent countless hours in thought, evaluation, and prayer, as well as, seeking the advice of trusted friends. And now it is decision time. I would like to invite you to come out and join us as Jack makes an important announcement regarding the 6th Congressional seat.
Progressive groups were quick to condemn a possible Hoogendyk candidacy.
"A primary between Upton and Hoogendyk would be a rerun financed by Washington, DC corporate power brokers," David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan, told The American Independent by email. "Upton's Wall Street and Big Oil backers versus an extremist anti-government group that, more than any other, is responsible for driving this Republican Congress off the cliff into historic depths of low public opinion. Expect low ratings from middle class Michigan voters who may just decide to tune both of them out."
Amy Hunter, president of the Equality Michigan Pride PAC, was also scathing in her assessment of a Hoogendyk candidacy.
"Given Rep. Upton's extraordinary shift to the far-right, it seems unlikely that the GOP could hope for someone less interested in equality for women, families and gay and transgender Michiganders," she said in an email to TAI. "Jack Hoogenbyk [sic] unfortunately, fits that description. The people of the Michigan 6th Congressional District deserve a representative who cares about all of his or her constituents. Someone who cares about fundemental [sic] fairness and equality for all Michiganders, not someone whose far-right agenda harms or excludes thousands of Michigan families and children - gay or straight."
Photo: Former Michigan state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk appears at a tea party event at the state Capitol (AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Todd Heywood).