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GOP Still Searching for Senate Candidate in Michigan

As Republicans struggle to find a challenger to face Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) in 2012, it looks increasingly unlikely that a member of the state’s Congressional delegation will run.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) didn’t sound optimistic about Senate recruiting on Thursday, saying “it’s a shame” his party is still searching for a candidate to run against Stabenow. He told Roll Call he expects Republicans to now attempt to recruit Members.

McCotter’s comments came hours after former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) announced Thursday that she would not run for Senate.

“They’re going to be looking at everybody because Terri Lynn Land was supposed to announce this week. I don’t think it’s just me that they’re trying to see if wants to do it,” McCotter said.

When asked about his interest in the race, McCotter said he has not met with the state party or Senate Republicans — and suggested that should be indicative of his level of interest.

National Republicans believe Stabenow is a vulnerable target in 2012, but McCotter said, “She’s proven a whole lot of them wrong.” Land is the most recent high-profile Michigan Republican to turn down the race, following former Rep. Pete Hoekstra’s announcement last month that he would not challenge Stabenow.

“I just think it’s funny,” said McCotter, who chuckled. “The candidate they wanted didn’t do it. So now I’m sure they’ll be talking to Mike [Rogers] and Candice [Miller].”

But Miller also crossed her name off the list, telling Roll Call on Thursday, “My plan at this time is to seek re-election in the House.”

National Republican Senatorial Campaign spokesman Brian Walsh emphasized that it is still early in the cycle.

“At this point two years ago, members of both parties thought Russ Feingold [D-Wis.] and Blanche Lincoln [D-Ark.] would be returning to the Senate this year,” he said. “We have no doubt that Michigan will ultimately be one of the most competitive races in the country next year.”

Local Republicans have floated former state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, who lost a bid for Republican National Committee chairman earlier this year, as a potential candidate. Businessman Tim Leuliette is also reportedly interested in the race, as well as cardiologist Rob Steele, who lost to Rep. John Dingell (D) by 17 points in 2010.