Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra's (R-Mich.) campaign said they are "cautiously optimistic" that he can raise between $400,000 and $500,000 in the first quarter of his campaign to defeat Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), a solid but not overwhelming number for the Republican front-runner.
The numbers were included in a strategy memo leaked to The Hill and other outlets.
Hoekstra has been known as a weak fundraiser in the past, and a half million dollar haul would help change that image. But it will be hard for him to catch up to Stabenow, who has $4 million in the bank for her reelection.
His focus right now is on squeezing out primary challenger Clark Durant, who helped found a series of Christian charter schools in Detroit. Hoekstra has succeeded to some extent by securing the endorsements of most of the state's legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder, who he ran against for the 2010 gubernatorial nomination.
The memo acknowledged Hoekstra's past fundraising issues but sought to minimize them. "As everyone has always said, Pete Hoekstra has historically not been known for breaking fundraising records," write top strategists John Yob, Fred Davis and Ed Goeas. "Pete's strength has always been driven from support from within the grassroots base of the party and conservatives across the state."
The numbers may be the floor estimate; campaigns like to set fundraising expectations low so when they break them, they can crow about the final figures.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee criticized Hoekstra's memo leak. "In a shameless attempt to lower expectations, Hoekstra’s team is putting out artificially low numbers and relying on talking points that are just flat out wrong," said DSCC Spokesman Shripal Shah. "Angered by Hoekstra’s support for the Wall St. bailout and bonuses for bailed out CEOs, grassroots Republicans in Michigan rejected Hoekstra’s candidacy for Governor last year and Hoekstra could barely raise over a million bucks for his statewide run."
Updated at 11:40 a.m. to include Shah's statement.