Debbie Stabenow was born in Clare, Mich. She received both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Michigan State University.
She began her first term in public office as an Ingham County commissioner. She left the commission in 1978 after winning a seat in the state House of Representatives.
She was re-elected five times to the Michigan House. She won a seat in the state Senate in 1990, serving one four-year term.
She also co-founded the Michigan Leadership Institute Inc. and gave leadership seminars. Stabenow was elected to Michigan's 8th District House seat in November 1996.
Stabenow was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000.
She is divorced and has two children.
Debbie Stabenow, Michigan's first female U.S. senator and chair of that body's Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, faces re-election in 2012.
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Republican from Holland, Mich., is challenging Stabenow for the seat she's held for two terms.
While national Republicans view the seat as a good opportunity for a pickup, Stabenow enjoys all the advantages of a two-term incumbent. She has about four times as much cash available as Hoekstra and earned the backing of the pro-business Detroit Regional Chamber as well as farmers who supported the agriculture bill she helped push through the Senate.
Stabenow characterizes herself as a moderate Democrat. As a state lawmaker, she made a name for herself by pushing through landmark legislation to toughen child support enforcement and stiffen penalties for drunken driving, and for her advocacy on behalf of small businesses and domestic violence victims.
Stabenow voted against a bailout bill for the nation's financial industry in October 2008, saying it was too costly and failed to do enough to help homeowners and unemployed workers. She supported the approximately $800 billion stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2009.
She co-sponsored a bill in 2009 that would allow licensed pharmacies and drug wholesalers in the U.S. to import FDA-approved medications from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and pass along the savings to their U.S. customers. She also pushed a proposal that would provide rebates to buyers who trade in old vehicles for new, fuel-efficient models assembled in the U.S.
During her time in the Senate, Stabenow has continued her efforts to avoid cuts in funding for community policing programs. She also is a strong advocate of stopping Canadian trash imports into Michigan, which at one time totaled more than 400 truckloads a day.
During her successful 1996 run for Congress, Stabenow stressed increased federal funding for college loans, long-term care for the elderly, streamlining government regulations, expanding computer equipment in schools, protecting Medicare and Medicaid and helping small businesses.
In Congress, Stabenow was a member of the New Democrat Coalition. She supported both the balanced budget amendment and the Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997. She went against President Bill Clinton by voting against a bill that would normalize trade relations with China.
Stabenow favors abortion rights but opposes the procedure critics call "partial-birth abortion" unless the health or life of the mother is in danger. She is well-regarded by police groups for her efforts to procure federal funds to hire more local police officers and to get money for a communications system that addresses the problem of first responders being on incompatible radio systems, a problem that was especially noticeable in rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Although Michigan's economy remained weak, Stabenow has insulated herself somewhat from blame by pushing for a trade czar, criticizing some international trade agreements and saying she's fighting to protect manufacturing and workers' pensions.
Committee Assignments: Finance; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry(Chair); Energy and Natural Resources; Budget
American Conservative Union Rating: 0
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 90
Debbie Stabenow is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on August 6, 2014.)