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GOP businesswoman Lena Epstein to run for Senate

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Republican businesswoman Lena Epstein, who co-chaired President Donald Trump’s Michigan campaign, said Monday she is running for U.S. Senate.

Epstein, 35, is the first GOP candidate to announce a challenge to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is running for a fourth term next year.

Other Republicans said to be considering a bid for Stabenow’s seat include U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr.

Epstein of Bloomfield Hills is the general manager and co-owns her family’s business in Southfield, Vesco Oil Corp., a distributor of automotive and industrial lubricants.

She has not held elected office but says Michigan is ready for another outside candidate with business leadership experience as it demonstrated in electing Trump last fall. Like Trump, she supports an “America First” approach to foreign policy and national security.

“Politicians have failed us, and Michigan citizens are looking for another way. I will speak for those who have not been spoken for,” Epstein said in a statement.

“I will take the fight directly to Debbie Stabenow because she has failed the people of Michigan after almost two decades in Washington with no major accomplishments. Twenty years of nothing is more than enough. Michigan deserves better.”

Epstein was appointed to the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board in 2012 by Gov. Rick Snyder and serves on the boards of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Historical Society and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, according to her website.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s of business administration.

Her campaign website describes her as a sought-after mentor and motivational speaker. It features a video of her positive comments about Trump and the presidential race on political TV shows, which has allowed her to grow her profile with broader audiences.

Stabenow, a former congresswoman and state legislator from Lansing, won election to the Senate in 2000, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Spence Abraham by less than 3 percentage points.

She easily topped Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard by 15 percentage points in 2006 and beat former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland by more than 20 points in 2012.

The Associated Press contributed

mburke@detroitnews.com

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