Michigan Senate candidate to primary foe: Explain Hoffa connections

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Recently-announced Michigan Republican Senate candidate Gary Glenn is questioning ties between the primary frontrunner, former GOP Congressman Pete Hoekstra, and Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.

Glenn points to Hoekstra’s outspoken opposition to a statewide Right to Work law while the former Republican Congressman was running for governor of Michigan in 2010.

“When Michigan voters, who strongly support Right to Work, cast their ballots in the Republican primary, I think this is going to be a disqualifier for any Republican who’s in bed with big union bosses like Jimmy Hoffa, and who has a record of opposing Right to Work,” Glenn told The Daily Caller. “In contrast, I led the campaign that made Idaho a Right to Work state. I am making this a focal point of my campaign for the Senate and if I’m a United States Senator I will join Jim DeMint and Rand Paul and Mike Lee in sponsoring a national Right to Work bill.” (RELATED: Herman Cain: Hoffa, Dems using vitriolic rhetoric because they have ‘no plan’)

Hoekstra and Hoffa have a long history of working together while the Republican was a Congressman in Washington. A 2002 article in The New Republic, for instance, details how Hoekstra and Hoffa tried to work together to build momentum to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil drilling.

“I know Jim,” Hoekstra said of Hoffa back then. “He wants the union to have control of its own policing. And he wants to put in place a system his members have confidence in. This guy more than anyone else in the labor movement is focused on his membership.”

In 2000, Hoffa told ABC News he and the Teamsters backed Hoekstra then because he has agreed not to endorse any national Right to Work laws.

Hoekstra’s relationships with the Teamsters continued through his 2010 bid for governor. The Michigan Teamsters Joint Council 43, a group with more than 90,000 union members in the state, endorsed Hoekstra’s gubernatorial campaign.

It took Hoekstra almost two full days to denounce Hoffa’s Labor Day vitriolic rhetoric. “This kind of rhetoric has no place in American politics,” Hoekstra said in an interview NewsMax.TV posted on Wednesday afternoon. “The litany of people who are trying to engage the tea party and Republicans in a street fight goes on and on. Let’s not get dragged into the street fight that they want to pull us into.”

Glenn told TheDC he questions Hoekstra’s criticism of Hoffa as something he was politically forced into doing. “I don’t think he had much choice, especially after he, himself, was called out on his long relationship with Hoffa.”

Glenn said this is an “opportunity” to “focus on the substantive issue: Hoekstra’s opposition to Right to Work and support of Jimmy Hoffa and compulsory pay-or-you’re-fired unionism.”

Glenn said he expects Right to Work and other labor issues to remain “white hot” policies heading into the next election. Glenn is trying to attract grassroots conservative support for his campaign, and is a frequent speaker at tea party rallies. He told TheDC he’s “probably one of the last living people” who drove a Right to Work campaign, getting an entire state to adopt the policy. He led a campaign in Idaho in the 1980s to pass a Right to Work law, and has recently launched efforts to do the same in Michigan.

Public Policy Polling said Hoekstra is “looking like a shoo-in Republican Senate nomination” in early August, but no new polling data has come out since Glenn declared his candidacy on August 4. Other candidates in the primary include Randy Hekman and Peter Konetchy. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the general Senate election.

Hoekstra’s campaign did not return TheDC’s requests for comment.

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