Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said Friday that he's considering challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) in 2012.
Hoekstra, a former nine-term congressman who retired in 2010 to pursue an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, said he'll make up his mind about a Senate run over the next few months.
Republicans are optimistic about their chances to knock off Stabenow, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, after enjoying some encouraging victories in the 2010 campaign.
Those candidates were especially encouraged by a poll earlier this month showing that just 37 percent of voters in the Great Lake state approve of the way Stabenow is handling her job. In that Detroit News/WDIV poll, 23 percent said they'd choose to reelect the Democrat, while 43 percent said they would consider voting for someone new.
The sense that Stabenow might be vulnerable has prompted Republican candidates to seriously consider entering the race. Former GOP state party Chairman Saul Anuzis, fresh off an unsuccessful campaign for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, has said he's also considering running. He tweeted Thursday night that he'd dined with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), though that was a larger gathering and not a personal, one-on-one situation.
A separate poll released Friday showed Hoekstra with the early edge in the GOP field for Senate.
A Strategic National poll of Michigan voters found that about 33 percent of Republican voters would prefer Hoekstra and 15 percent would choose Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, while 50 percent were undecided. Anuzis registered 1 percent in the poll. That poll has a 4.5 percent margin of error.
Hoekstra entered last year's Republican gubernatorial primary as the favorite before losing the race to businessman Rick Snyder, who went onto victory in November.
"We just came off a statewide race that wasn't successful; that's not a lot of fun," he said of the experience. "We left that race in a positive way. We felt great about the state of Michigan, we felt great about the people of this state."
—Updated 12:13 p.m.