Republican businessman Sandy Pensler said Wednesday he contributed $5 million to his campaign for U.S. Senate, giving a jolt to a race in which the GOP is hoping to defeat incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow but has struggled to find a proven, top-tier candidate.
The announcement came a week after former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young left the race. He said conservatives should quickly coalesce around a "consensus" candidate so the party can focus on winning the seat in November.
Also running are Iraq War veteran and Detroit business executive John James and historic preservationist Bob Carr.
"Republicans now have an impressive candidate with real business experience and the resources to hold Debbie Stabenow accountable for her four decades of double talk as a career politician," said Pensler spokesman Tom Shields.
Stabenow, who declined to address the criticism, has about $8 million on hand after raising $1.9 million in the last quarter, her campaign said Wednesday. She coasted to re-election in 2012 and 2006 and is seeking a fourth term.
Pensler lives in Grosse Pointe and founded an investment group that owns four manufacturing plants. He joined the race in November and said then he would spend millions of his own money to run. He has not held elective office but ran unsuccessfully for a Lansing-area U.S. House seat 25 years ago.
James, an executive in his family's logistics business, had $216,000 as of Sept. 30 — shortly after he launched his campaign. He announced Wednesday that his campaign co-chairs are lawyer and former Kent County GOP chairman John Inhulsen, Detroit-area businesswoman Lauren Rakolta and former state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville. Heading up fundraising are real estate developers Joey Agree and Charlie Secchia.
James campaign manager Tori Sachs said he is assembling an "army" of supporters and donors and had a "strong" quarter of fundraising. Campaign-finance reports are due at the end of January.