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Pete Hoekstra

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Title: Pete Hoekstra  
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Subject: United States Senate election in Michigan, 2012, Bill Huizenga, Carl Pursell, Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, Debbie Stabenow
Collection: 1953 Births, American People of Dutch Descent, Dutch Emigrants to the United States, Hope College Alumni, Living People, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Michigan, Michigan Republicans, People from Groningen (City), People from Holland, Michigan, Reformed Church in America Christians, Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Ross School of Business Alumni, Tea Party Movement Activists, University of Michigan Alumni
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Pete Hoekstra

Pete Hoekstra
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Carl Pursell
Succeeded by Bill Huizenga
Chairman of House Intelligence Committee
In office
September 23, 2004 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Porter Goss
Succeeded by Silvestre Reyes
Personal details
Born Pieter Hoekstra
(1953-10-30) October 30, 1953
Groningen, Netherlands
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Diane Johnson
Children Erin
Alma mater Hope College
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Website Campaign website

Peter "Pete" Hoekstra (born October 30, 1953) is a Dutch-American politician who is a former member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Michigan's 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011. Hoekstra is a member of the Republican Party.

Born in Groningen, Netherlands, Hoekstra is a graduate of Hope College and the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. In 1992, Hoekstra ran for the U.S. House, defeating 13-term incumbent Guy Vander Jagt in the Republican primary, and Democratic opponent John H. Miltner, in the general election. After the appointment of Congressman Porter Goss as Director of the CIA, Hoekstra became the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, serving from 2004 to 2007. He was a candidate for Governor of Michigan in Michigan's 2010 gubernatorial election, but came in second to Rick Snyder in the Republican primary. Hoekstra was also a candidate for the United States Senate in 2012. He won the Republican primary with 54% of the vote, but later lost to Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in the general election.


  • Early life and education 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
    • Committee assignments 2.3
    • Caucus memberships 2.4
  • 2010 gubernatorial election 3
  • 2012 U.S. Senate election 4
    • Ad controversy 4.1
  • Post political career 5
    • On torture 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Born Pieter Hoekstra in Groningen, Netherlands, he moved to America with his parents at the age of three. He received a B.A. in political science from Hope College in 1975 and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in 1977. He then joined office furniture maker Herman Miller and remained there for 15 years, eventually becoming vice president of marketing.

U.S. House of Representatives


In 1992, Hoekstra made his first bid for public office in the 2nd District. The district, previously the 9th, had been represented for 26 years by Guy Vander Jagt, longtime chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.[1] Hoekstra rode his bicycle across the district, charging that Vander Jagt had served in Congress for too long. He scored a monumental upset, winning by almost six percent.[2] This primary win was tantamount to election with the 2nd district seen as the "most Republican" district in Michigan, as Republicans have held the district for all but four years since it was created in 1873. Hoekstra later defeated Democrat John H. Miltner and Libertarian Dick Jacobs in the general election, with 63% of the vote.[3] Hoekstra continued to ride his bicycle across the district every summer, and biked across the state for his gubernatorial campaign.[4]

Hoekstra had promised to only serve six terms (12 years) in the House when he was first elected. However, in 2003, Hoekstra announced he would break his self-imposed term limit and run for a seventh term in 2004, citing his membership on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2006, Hoekstra's Leadership PAC (the Mileage Fund) raised nearly $160,000 in Political Action Contributions from such diverse contributors as the Teamsters, Michigan Credit Union League, and Little Planet Books.[5]

Hoekstra faced no significant opposition in the Republican primary or in the general election (as in his previous five reelection campaigns) and went on to secure his seventh term. Shortly after the primary, he was named chairman of the Intelligence Committee, succeeding Porter Goss, who became Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.


Hoekstra had no primary opponent. In November he was opposed by the Democratic candidate Kimon Kotos,[6] who was also his 2004 opponent. Hoekstra defeated Kotos 183,518 votes to 87,361 votes.[7]


Hoekstra ran for re-election in 2008 against Fred Johnson, Associate Professor of History at Hope College. He beat Johnson by 215,471 to 119,959 votes.


Hoekstra has a conservative voting record, consistent with the conservative nature of the 2nd congressional district. However, he opposes amending the Constitution to prohibit flag desecration.

Criticism of the Islamic Society of North America

Hoekstra and a fellow Republican sent an open letter to then Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales regarding the Islamic Society of North America as blogged about via the Washington Times: In a letter to then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Reps. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, called the Justice Department's involvement a "grave mistake."

"In light of the threat that our nation ... is currently facing from radical jihadists, and because of the president's commitment to fighting the war on terror on all fronts, we believe it is a grave mistake to provide legitimacy to an organization with extremist origins, leadership and a radical agenda," the lawmakers said.

The amendment, which was approved by a voice vote to a spending measure, states that "no funds appropriated under this act may be used to support a conference sponsored by any organization named as an unindicted co-conspirator by the government in any criminal prosecution.".[8]

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)

On June 22, 2006, Hoekstra made headlines by announcing at a press conference in the Capitol that weapons of mass destruction had been located in Iraq in the form of 500 chemical weapons.[9]

A number of other media outlets disputed the claims made by Hoekstra and Rick Santorum regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction, reporting that the claims were disputed by both Pentagon officials, the Duelfer Report, and the intelligence community.[10][11][12]

On November 3, 2006, The New York Times reported that a website created at the request of Hoekstra and Senator Pat Roberts was found to contain detailed information that could potentially be helpful to those seeking to produce nuclear weapons. The website was shut down on November 2 following questioning by The New York Times.[13]

As of September 17, 2007, some news outlets reported that the Congressional committee Hoekstra had overseen had created "erroneous" and "misleading" reports about Iran's nuclear capabilities. "Among the committee's assertions is that Iran is producing weapons-grade uranium at its facility in the town of Natanz. The IAEA called that "incorrect", noting that weapons-grade uranium is enriched to a level of 90 percent or more. Iran has enriched uranium to 3.5 percent under IAEA monitoring." [14][15]

Repatriation of Yemeni captives in Guantanamo

On December 27, 2009, Hoekstra commented on reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had allegedly tried to set off a suicide bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, had subsequently confessed to being trained and equipped in Yemen.[16][17] Hoekstra called for a halt to the repatriation of Yemeni captives in Guantanamo.

Tea Party Caucus

Hoekstra was a founding member of the Congressional House Tea Party Caucus in 2010.[18][19]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Founding chairman of the Education Freedom Caucus
  • Founding chairman of the Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands

2010 gubernatorial election

In December 2008, Hoekstra said he would not seek re-election to his U.S. House seat in 2010, and instead campaign to be Michigan's governor. Hoekstra joined Mike Cox as 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidates. In the primary, held on August 3, 2010, Hoekstra finished second to Snyder.[20][21][22][23][24]

Republican gubernatorial primary results 2010[25]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Snyder 381,327 36.4
Republican Pete Hoekstra 280,976 26.8
Republican Mike Cox 240,409 23.0
Republican Mike Bouchard 127,350 12.2
Republican Tom George 16,986 1.6
Total votes 1,044,925 100

2012 U.S. Senate election

Hoekstra was suggested as a possible challenger for incumbent Debbie Stabenow in the 2012 Senate election,[26] but he initially declined to run.[27] Hoekstra later changed his mind and decided to challenge Stabenow in the election.[28] On 29 August 2011, Hoekstra was endorsed by Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder,[29] and on 23 September 2011, Hoekstra was endorsed by 2012 Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.[30] Critics also pointed out that Hoekstra voted for the $700-billion Wall Street bailout and voted for trillions more in deficit spending while he was in Congress.[31]

Hoekstra faced Stabenow and four third-party candidates in the general election. On November 6, 2012, Hoekstra was defeated by Stabenow, receiving just 38% of the vote.[32]

Michigan U.S. Senate Election 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Debbie Stabenow (incumbent) 2,735,826 58.8% +1.9
Republican Pete Hoekstra 1,767,386 38.0% -3.3
Libertarian Scotty Boman 84,480 1.8% +1.1
Green Harley Mikkelson 27,890 0.6% -
Constitution Richard Matkin 26,038 0.6% +0.1
Natural Law John Litle 11,229 0.2% +0.1
Others Write-in 69 0.0% -
Majority 409,367 8.8%
Turnout 4,652,918
Democratic hold Swing 2%

Ad controversy

A still from Pete Hoekstra's campaign advertisement featuring Lisa Chan, as broadcast on February 5, 2012

Hoekstra targeted Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow with a television ad which ran statewide during the 2012 Super Bowl.[33] The 30-second ad, created by Republican advertising consultant Fred Davis III, opened with the sound of a gong and the image of a Chinese woman (played by 2012 Miss Napa Valley Lisa Chan)[34] riding a bike alongside a rice paddy. The ad sarcastically accused Stabenow of contributing to the U.S.' spending problem, with the woman thanking "Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow", in broken English, implying Stabenow has earned China's gratitude for making the U.S. economy "very weak" while China's "get very good".[31]

The commercial included a link to a Hoekstra campaign website with statistics about federal spending, decorated with images of Chinese flags and currency and using a stereotypical Chinatown font.[35] In the HTML code on Hoekstra’s site, the woman in the ad is identified as "yellowgirl".[36] A statement released by the Hoekstra campaign claimed the HTML code was mistakenly shortened from “yellowshirtgirl”.[37]

Asian-American groups called the ad “very disturbing”,[38] and two of Hoekstra’s GOP opponents, Clark Durant and Gary Glenn, questioned whether Hoekstra is the right candidate for Republicans to support.[39] The ad was called “blatantly racist" by Michael Yaki, former aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.[40] Sen. Dan Inouye, the longest serving senator in Congress, said Hoekstra's "racist thoughts are not welcome in the United States Senate.”[41] Journalist James Fallows of The Atlantic called it the "most revolting ad".[42] The NAACP denounced the ad as an "unnecessary race card."[43]

The ad proved costly for Hoekstra; several polls reported him losing ground to Stabenow in a head-to-head matchup.[44][45]

Hoekstra initially stood by the ad, claiming it hit Stabenow "smack dab between the eyes" on the economy.[46] However, on February 10, 2012 Hoekstra shut down his controversial Chinese-themed website and phased in a new TV commercial in place of his original ad.[47] American Values super PAC, an Asian American group has claimed credit for the scrub shortly after the group's launch of an online viral ad condemning Hoekstra.[48]

On February 16, Chan apologized for her involvement in the ad. In a statement on her Facebook page, she said the role was "not in any way representative of who I am" and "absolutely a mistake on my part."[49]

Despite the controversy, Hoekstra won the Republican primary.[50] He lost to Stabenow in the general election.

Post political career

In February 2011, Hoekstra joined the government relations group and Washington D.C. law firm Dickstein Shapiro,[51] and was named a visiting distinguished fellow at the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, concentrating on education reform.[52]

On torture

In an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel on December 10, 2014, Hoekstra said he disagreed with the recently released Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.[53]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Situation Room, CNN. June 21, 2006. Transcript available.
  12. ^ The Washington Post: Lawmakers Cite Weapons Found in Iraq. June 22, 2006.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Michigan Gov. Snyder Endorses Hoekstra Archived December 18, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b With videos: Pete Hoekstra Super Bowl ad slammed ([[Detroit Free Press)]
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Ad Draws Protests for Portrayal of Asians ([[New York Times)]
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Black ministers join critics who say Hoekstra’s broken English ad is racially insensitive ([[Associated Press, February 6, 2012)]
  40. ^ Civil Rights Commissioner Calls Hoekstra Super Bowl Ad ‘Blatantly Racist’
  41. ^ Inouye on Hoekstra: ‘His racist thoughts are not welcome in the United States Senate’ ([[Washington Post, 02/07/2012)]
  42. ^ Super Bowl Special! My Nominee for Most Revolting Ad ([[The Atlantic)]
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Catanese, David. 'It hits Debbie smack dab between the eyes'. The Politico, 2012-02-06.
  47. ^ Hoekstra backs off Super Bowl ad ([[Detroit News, February 10, 2012)]
  48. ^ "Pete Hoekstra Scrubs Racially Tinged Super Bowl Ad From Internet" February 22, 2012 ABC News
  49. ^ Stableford, Dylan. Actress in controversial ad for Pete Hoekstra’s Senate campaign is ‘deeply sorry’. Yahoo! News, 2012-02-16.
  50. ^ Michigan U.S. Senate seat: Pete Hoekstra wins Republican primary; Stabenow up next
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ [1]

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Carl Pursell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Huizenga
Preceded by
Porter Goss
Chairman of House Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Silvestre Reyes
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike Bouchard
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 1)

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