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Washington — Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow ended the first quarter with a healthy $4.3 million cash in the bank, according to campaign finance reports.

Stabenow, who is running for a fourth term next year, raised nearly $1.3 million in the first three months of the year.

The fundraising for the 66-year-old Lansing area resident continues this week with a joint event Sunday at the Cobo Center in Detroit with Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic liberal who will be in town to speak at the Detroit NAACP’s annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.

The afternoon reception, with a suggested donation of $25, benefits the Stabenow Warren Victory Fund, according to the invitation.

No Republicans have publicly declared their intent to challenge Stabenow, who has served in the upper chamber since 2001 when she became the first woman to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, the senior Republican in Michigan’s congressional delegation, is said to be considering a run.

“Republicans have talked a big game about challenging her, and with the right candidate this could be a competitive race. But Stabenow has proved herself over and over to be a skilled fundraiser. She’s got a pretty sizable war chest,” said Susan Demas, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter.

“April is getting kind of late to jump into a U.S. Senate race. It’s not the same as running for Congress. But if you have a self-funding candidate, which is a possibility, then you can always get in later.”

Stabenow is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee and sits on the Senate Energy and Budget panels. This year, she took on a new role as chair of the Senate Democrats’ policy and messaging arm, the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which was previously led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

A Democrat, Craig Allen Smith, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in February declaring his intent to challenge Stabenow. Smith could not be reached for comment Tuesday but, according to his campaign’s Facebook page, he hails from Gaylord.

Smith’s FEC paperwork lists an address in Washington, D.C. Smith’s biography says he served in the U.S. Army for nearly 10 years, worked as a field representative for the U.S. House, and is now the president of About Face 4 Media LLC and About Face 4 Vets Inc., a nonprofit for veterans of the Sept. 11 era.

mburke@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8736

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