Glenn Beck-loving Hockey Player to Run Against Stabenow?

***UPDATE #2***

If we assume the Republicans hope to get a recognizable name to run against Stabenow as opposed to “some guy” who once played for the Wings. By saying it’s someone born in Canada but who’s a US citizen and isn’t Steve Yzerman, that already narrows things down quite a bit. If you look at the rosters of the Wings’ in their 4 recent Stanley Cup-winning seasons, you narrow things down even more when you figure many of the recognizable names who would be fan favorites in Michigan were European players. Of those born in Canada but are recognizable in the US, at least a few–Darren McCarty and Joe Kocur–have DUI’s in their recent past.

Two guys do stand out, though. Brendan Shanahan is headed to the Hall of Fame, had most of his best seasons in Detroit, is beloved, and is a Canadian-born naturalized US citizen. But unless he suffered a concussion since he retired he won’t be running as a Republican; he spoke at a John Kerry rally in Detroit in 2004 and donated to Barack Obama in 2008.

The only other notable name I could come up with is Brett Hull. Hull was born in Canada but his mother was American, so he has dual citizenship. But Hull was only with the Wings for a few years, there’s no indication he’s either political or a Republican, and he lives in Texas, where he’s an executive with the Dallas Stars.

Maybe the Republicans have some super-secret plan to unveil a great candidate, but I can’t think of any obvious great candidate who’s a Canadian-born American who lives in Michigan, is a Republican and who has any big popular appeal.

So, to mix sports metaphors, it appears it’s time for the GOP to throw a hail mary…and hope that maybe they score on a slap shot and get one of the Hanson Brothers to run against Debbie Stabenow:

“Old time hockey”

“Toe Blake”




…[Lennox] also said it’s not former star Steve Yzerman.

The former player being considered was born in Canada but is now a U.S. citizen, he said.

Never mind. That means it’s not Brian Rafalski. So unless it’s Gordie Howe made decades younger, I can’t imagine anyone who would be a top-tier candidate.  I guess this makes the story “GOP may not even be able to recruit top tier hockey player someone might have heard of to run against Stabenow.”

This is, however, a great example of GOP hypocrisy, since they’re now trying to recruit a Canadian-born candidate even though in 2002 they ran commercials accusing Jennifer Granholm of not having Michigan values because she was born in Canada.


The Michigan GOP has yet to announce a top-tier candidate to run against Democratic incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow. Might the search have ended?

GOP operatives are trying to persuade a former Detroit Red Wing to challenge U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2012.

Dennis Lennox, a member of the executive committee of the Cheboygan County Republican Party, said he and other party members recently met with the retired hockey player, whom he wouldn’t identify.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate to give a name while a person is considering it and hasn’t made a decision,” said Lennox, a former county drain commissioner who is a consultant for Sterling, Hoffman and Co. of Midland.

“The player in question that we are trying to recruit is very well-known to Michiganders and would be well-positioned to hit the ground running and defeat Senator Stabenow.”

This one is easy to figure out: it’s the recently retired Brian Rafalski.

Fewer than 20% of NHL players are American. Few of them are particularly well-known in Michigan. Fewer of them are political.

Rafalski isn’t just an American player, he’s a hometown boy–from the Detroit suburb Dearborn–who in 2007, after being an all star and winning two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils, signed with the Detroit Red Wings and helped them win a Stanley Cup the following season.

On the ice Rafalski was a defenseman, but in politics he’s a winger:

Rafalski said he got a chance to meet Glenn Beck on Friday on a tour of Fox News Channel in New York.

“It’s my favorite,” he said of Beck’s show. “I watch every day.”

A search at shows he hasn’t been a big donor–his only federal donation over $500 was to Andrew Raczkowski, the Republican who in 2010 ran against Michigan Democratic Congressman Gary Peters. But he has given to Wisconsin Republicans Sean Duffy and Ron Johnson, to Marco Rubio, to Scott Brown, and to “Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere,” AKA Michele Bachman’s PAC.

Not surprisingly, there’s already a Draft Brian Rafalski page on Facebook.

The Michigan GOP hasn’t been able to attract a top-tier candidate to take on Debbie Stabenow. It’s not surprising, because whatever the GOP may say publicly, they know she’s a tough opponent.  Beating Stabenow, especially in a presidential year with a deeply unpopular Republican governor and legislature hurting Republicans with independent voters, will be very difficult. So if I was with the GOP and trying to get a candidate to run against Stabenow, why not try to get a popular athlete who’s ideologically safe and looking for a new challenge?

Will Rafalski do it? I have no idea. He was a well-paid professional athlete, but his net worth probably isn’t enough to self-fund a Senate campaign. But he may be able to dump a few million bucks of his own money in to the race, which is probably more than most other potential credible candidates could quickly amass. If he does run, it could make things tougher for Stabenow. But considering she beat or forced out of the race a Republican for every office she’s held, from county commission, to state rep, then state senator, US Congress and then US Senate, I think she may not have the easy blowout she had in 2006 but she still wins by a safe margin.

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11 Responses to Glenn Beck-loving Hockey Player to Run Against Stabenow?

  1. Frank says:

    Also, Shanahan just, a couple of weeks ago, accepted an offer to replace Colin Campbell as the NHL’s Head of Discipline; he’s also in charge of Player Safety. He’s been working in the NHL office since he retired. I doubt, even if he did have a political about-face, he’d be interested.

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  3. gjdodger says:

    He’s not quite retired, but he’s almost there. Chris Osgood holds American citizenship.

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  5. megisi says:

    Brian Rafalski has all the charisma of burnt rubbish and half the smarts. As for Osgood, I’d bet the ranch money he would never do such a thing. He’s too glib and is still seeking another year in the league. Perhaps it’s Aaron Ward.

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  7. Dante says:

    Ummmm…. Dallas Drake?

  8. Dana Houle says:

    I suppose it could be Drake or Ward, but I don’t know they’re still in Detroit or are now US citizens, and even if so, they would count as nothing more than “some guy.” Osgood is higher profile, but I agree with migisi that Osgood seems more intent on continuing his playing career than running for office.

  9. eandaLou Lewis says:

    Stu Grimson? Lawyer in Nashville, but he’s a born-again.

  10. POBRE says:

    Personally, I enjoy seeing athletes run for office. They’ve had a mixed record (Kemp, Bradley = good; Osbourne, Ryun = bad; Ventura = really, really bad). But, you can say that about any professional. The fact is that athletes are admired and respected in this country. That might be shallow … but it’s the way that it is. We need officeholders who command respect and create enthusiasm. If that takes a hockey player, so be it. For me right now, I don’t think that I’d walk across the street to listen to another politician. But, if Lance Armstrong or Nolan Ryan was in town, I’d make a point of going out of my way to listen. I don’t have a real problem with Stabenow (although she not my first choice for Ag Chair). She’s just boring. The GOP would be wise to put an athlete on the ballot. The voters need a reason to get excited.

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