LANSING, Mich. — Detroit-area business turnaround expert Sandy Pensler joined the U.S. Senate race Monday, saying he will spend millions of his own money to try to defeat Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, who he said backs well-meaning policies that actually hurt her state.
Pensler — whose buyout company owns four manufacturing plants — is the third viable Republican to announce his candidacy, along with former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young and Iraq War veteran and businessman John James.
“I’m frustrated with the direction that Debbie Stabenow and others have been taking the country,” Pensler, a 61-year-old from Grosse Pointe, told The Associated Press. “They’ve been driving it toward government-focused, government-directed decisions and a huge regulatory state.”
He said his candidacy is about an alternative vision of “individual liberties, individual maximum freedoms and market-driven solutions.”
Pensler, who has not held elective office, ran unsuccessfully for a Lansing-area U.S. House seat 25 years ago. Back then, he was identified as a supporter of abortion rights — which his rivals almost surely will make an issue in the GOP primary.
He said Monday his position has “evolved” and he considers himself “pro-life.”
“My position’s changed since I’ve had a family,” Pensler said. “My wife and I think that abortion is a bad thing and that government should do what it can to limit it. I think Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision by a court, really an almost tyrannical decision by nine people on the rest of the country.”
Pensler founded Pensler Capital, an investment group that he said has turned around “a lot” of companies. It owns and operates Korex Companies, which manufactures dishwasher detergent, powdered consumer products and other items. One plant is in Wixom northwest of Detroit.
Pensler criticized Stabenow for supporting a minimum wage increase, which he said would eliminate entry-level jobs.
Stabenow spokesman Matt Williams declined to directly address Pensler’s criticism.
“Whether it’s protecting our Great Lakes, helping small businesses grow, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, Senator Stabenow is focused on doing her job and what’s best for Michigan,” he said.
Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00