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Gary Peters (politician)

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Gary Peters (politician)

Gary Peters
United States Senator-elect
from Michigan
Taking office
January 3, 2015
Succeeding Carl Levin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by John Conyers
Succeeded by Brenda Lawrence (elect)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 9th district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Joe Knollenberg
Succeeded by Sander Levin
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 14th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2002
Preceded by Jon Cisky[1]
Succeeded by Gilda Jacobs
Personal details
Born (1958-12-01) December 1, 1958
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Colleen Ochoa
Children Gary
Alma mater Alma College
University of Detroit
Wayne State University
Michigan State University
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1993–2000
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Unit Supply Officer
United States Navy Reserve
Awards Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Gary Peters (born December 1, 1958) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator-elect from Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 14th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2009. The district includes the eastern half of Detroit, as well as the Grosse Pointes, Hamtramck, Southfield and Pontiac. He previously represented Michigan's 9th congressional district from 2009 to 2013. Following the redrawing of congressional district boundaries after the 2010 United States Census, Peters defeated fellow Congressman Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary and won re-election in the newly redrawn 14th District.[2]

Prior to his election to Congress, Peters served in the United States Navy Reserve, spent 22 years as an investment advisor, and worked briefly in academia. He was elected to the Rochester Hills City Council in 1991, going on to represent the 14th District in the Michigan Senate from 1995 to 2002. He was the Democratic nominee for Michigan Attorney General in 2002, narrowly losing to Republican Mike Cox. He was then appointed Commissioner of the Michigan Lottery by Goveror Jennifer Granholm, serving from 2003 to 2008, when he resigned to run for Congress.

In 2014 Peters was elected to the United States Senate seat previously held by retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin.[3] He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Republican Terri Lynn Land in the general election. He is the only non-Incumbent Democrat to win a 2014 Senate election, hence he will be the only Senate freshman from the Democratic Party for the 114th Congress.[4][5]

Early life, education, and military service

Peters was born December 1, 1958 in Pontiac,[6] where he grew up. He is the son of Madeleine A. (née Vignier) and Herbert Garrett Peters, a historian and statistician.[7][8] His mother was a French war bride and his father was American.[9] He graduated from Alma College, where he was a member of the Zeta Sigma fraternity, in 1980[10] and received a master of business administration degree from the University of Detroit in 1984. Peters also holds a J.D. from the Wayne State University Law School and an M.A. in philosophy from Michigan State University.

Peters served as a Lieutenant Commander and a Assistant Supply Officer in the United States Navy Reserve. His reserve duty included time in the Persian Gulf supporting Operation Southern Watch, and he served overseas during increased military activity following the September 11, 2001 attacks. During his service he received awards and citations, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. He served on the Rochester Hills City Council from 1991-1993.[11][12]

Business and academic career

Peters worked for 22 years as a financial advisor, serving as an assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch from 1980 until 1989 when he joined Paine Webber as a vice president.[13][14][15]

From 2007 to 2008, Peters served as the third Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University. In that part-time position, he taught one class a semester, plus preparing additional student activities including two policy forums, and developing a journal of Michigan politics and policy, for $65,000 a year.[16] Peters announced his candidacy to run for Congress two months after being hired.[17] Student activists protested Peters’ hiring, saying he could not be objective in the classroom while running for office and that the university job was subsidizing his campaign.[17][18]

Peters also has taught finance at Wayne State and strategic management and business policy courses at Oakland University.[14]

He has been a senior policy and financial analyst for the Michigan Department of Treasury,[19] and served on arbitration panels for the National Association of Securities Dealers, the New York Stock Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Michigan Senate


In November 1994, Peters was elected to the Michigan Senate to represent the Oakland County-based 14th district. He was re-elected in 1998 and served until 2002, when he was compelled to retire owing to the law on term limits. Peters was succeeded in the 14th district by Gilda Jacobs.


The district is one of the most diverse state Senate districts—containing nearly every racial, ethnic and religious group in Michigan. Located in southeastern Oakland County, it includes the cities of Pontiac, Bloomfield Hills, Southfield, and Oak Park.

Peters was chosen by his Democratic colleagues to chair his party's caucus. He was also a member of the Michigan Law Revision Commission and served on the Michigan Sentencing Commission.[20] Both the Michigan State House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bill sponsored by Peters which banned any new wells under the state waters of the Great Lakes except in case of a state energy emergency. The bill passed into law without the signature of Governor John Engler.[21]

Committee assignments

He served as the vice chairman of the Senate Finance, Education, Judiciary and Economic Development Committees. He was also a member of the Natural Resources and the Mental Health and Human Services Committee.[20]

2002 statewide elections

In his final year as a member of the Michigan Senate, Peters was a candidate for governor and later for Attorney General. As the Democratic nominee for attorney general, he lost to Republican Mike Cox. Peters came within 5,200 votes of Cox—less than a 0.17 percent margin.[22][23] Peters decided not to contest the election results despite reported irregularities. Several mistakes were reportedly found during analysis, including a precinct in Dearborn which recorded Peters with 96 votes when he actually had 396. The race was the closest statewide contest in Michigan since the 1950 gubernatorial race.[24]

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Peters as the Michigan Lottery commissioner on April 9, 2003, where he was preceded by Jim Kipp and succeeded by Scott Bowen.[25][26][27]

U.S. House of Representatives



On August 7, 2007, Peters ended months of speculation by formally announcing he would run against eight-term Republican congressman Joe Knollenberg in the 9th District, which included almost all of Oakland County. Peters resigned as state lottery commissioner to devote his full energy to the campaign.

Knollenberg was considered vulnerable due to an increasing Democratic trend in what was once a heavily Republican district. He was nearly defeated in 2006 by Nancy Skinner, a former radio talk-show host who spent virtually no money, leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to target him for defeat. Knollenberg's opponents in 2002 and 2004 performed significantly below the Democratic base in the 9th District.

In the 2002 state attorney general race, Peters performed at or above the Democratic base in 72 percent of the 9th District precincts. In his 1998 state Senate campaign, he performed at or above base in 99 percent of the precincts.[28]

Peters won the November 4 election by 33,524 votes, taking 52 percent of the vote to Knollenberg's 43 percent. Barack Obama carried Oakland County by 15 points; roughly two-thirds of Oakland County was in the 9th. He was the fourth person and first Democrat to represent the district since its creation in 1933.[29]


Peters defeated challenges by Republican Andrew (Rocky) Raczkowski, Libertarian Adam Goodman, Independent Bob Gray, Independent Matthew Kuofie, and Green Douglas Campbell.[30]


Due to the state's population decline, as reflected by the 2010 Federal Census, Michigan lost one congressional district. As a result of the subsequent redistricting of house seats, much of Peters' 9th district, including his home in Bloomfield Hills, was merged with the 12th district, represented by fellow Democrat Sandy Levin. The new district retained Peters' district number—the 9th—but geographically was more Levin's district.

In September 2011, Peters opted to run in the newly redrawn 14th District. The district had previously been the 13th District, represented by freshman Democrat Hansen Clarke. The redrawn district is based in Detroit, but contains a large chunk of Peters' old State Senate district and portions of his old congressional district. Indeed, Peters had represented most of the Oakland County portion of the district at one time or another. Due to Detroit's dwindling population, it was no longer possible to keep the district exclusively within Wayne County. In the August 2012 Democratic primary, he defeated Clarke (who opted to follow most of his constituents into the reconfigured 14th even though his home had been drawn into the reconfigured 13th—the old 14th) and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence. The 14th is a heavily Democratic, 58 percent black-majority district, and Peters was overwhelmingly favored in November. As expected, he bested Republican John Hauler in the general election with 82 percent of the vote.


Gary Peters was sworn into his first term in January 2009. During his time in office, he's voted for the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus,[31] the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,[32] the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would have established a national emissions trading plan, but was not passed,[33] the Paycheck Fairness Act, also not passed into law,[34] the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,[35] and the DREAM Act[36] to provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants.

Peters worked with the Obama Administration to obtain debt forgiveness for Chrysler.[37] For his work, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said Peters was the "single most effective person" in fighting against the forces that wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt.[38] In Congress, Peters opposed a plan to provide disaster relief aid, the funds for which would have come from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.[39]

In July 2010, the Michigan Messenger wrote that Peters was "criticizing the leadership of his own party. Peters and three other Democratic legislators...this week formed the Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Working Group and proposed a series of bills to cut spending. Peters’ bill makes cuts in the federal energy budget.”[40] “We have been growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of action and talking about specifics and putting those on the table,” Peters said. “We’ve been frustrated with both Democratic leadership and Republicans.”[41]

Peters allied himself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, making an appearance at Occupy Detroit on November 6. Speaking to reporters, he stated: "It's speculation on Wall Street that we're still paying the price for here, particularly in Detroit that almost brought the auto industry to a collapse because of what we saw on Wall Street. So we put in restrictions, or put in regulations necessary to reign that in, and right now in Washington I’m facing a Republican majority that wants to undo that."[42]

He was one of 118 house Democrats who signed a letter to the president urging him to support the [43]

In 2014, Peters voiced opposition to a Michigan law which prohibits insurers from offering abortion coverage as a standard feature in health plans.[44]

Committee assignments


Peters was named senior whip for the Democratic caucus in 2013.[45]

2014 U.S. Senate election

Peters ran for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Carl Levin.[46] Peters was endorsed by Levin and Senator Debbie Stabenow, and his entrance largely cleared the field of potential Democratic challengers.[47]

Peters' largest independent supporter was Senate Majority PAC, which has spent $3,158,755.00 in ads attacking Peters' opponent in the race.[48][49][50][51] In July 2014, Senator Elizabeth Warren supported Peters at a campaign fundraising event.[52]

While the campaign was considered competitive early on, various missteps by the campaign of his Republican Party opponent Terri Lynn Land and her reluctance to appear in public had benefited the Peters campaign with consistent leads in polls late in the campaign.[53][54][55]

Personal life

Peters is married to Colleen Ochoa from Waterford and they have three children. They reside in Bloomfield Hills.[56]

Peters had assets of at least $970,000 and possibly as high as $3.9 million at the end of 2012. Members of Congress are not required to be specific, only to put values in certain ranges, so it's impossible to determine his net worth unless he volunteers it. [57] [58] His estimated wealth has increased 1101% since 2007.[59]

Peters is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.[60] His ancestor served in the Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary war. [61]

Electoral history


  1. ^ "Index to Politicians".  
  2. ^
  3. ^ Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake (March 8, 2013). "Sen. Carl Levin won't seek reelection in 2014 - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Biographical sketch" (PDF). Michigan Manual, 1999-2000.  
  7. ^ Profile,; accessed November 6, 2014.
  8. ^ Herb Peters dies ar age 95,; accessed November 6, 2014.
  9. ^ Madeleine A. Peters' obituary,; accessed November 6, 2014.
  10. ^ Alma College website; accessed November 6, 2014.
  11. ^ "Profile of Gary C. Peters". Biograpical Directory of the United States Congress. U.S. Congress. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ Cook, Mattie (2014-07-31). "Gary Peters challenges Terri Lynn Land". Setinel-Standard. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "CONFERENCE COMMITTEE FINISHES WORK ON WALL STREET REFORM". U.S. Representative Gary Peters. 2010-06-25. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Schlinker, John. "Gary Peters: A legal education put to many uses". Michigan Bar Journal. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  15. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (2014-04-25). "Could Michigan go red?". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Gray, Kathleen (October 31, 2008). "Ads' harshest claims stretch the truth in Knollenberg-Peters race". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Schmidt, Peter (July 22, 2010). "At Central Michigan U., Professors Fight To Protect Their Political Ambitions". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ "It's official: Peters will take on Knollenberg". Detroit Free Press. August 8, 2007. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Weeks, George (April 10, 03). "Mich. Lottery Czar Is Named; Granholm Appoints Gary Peters, Who Ran For Attorney General". The Detroit News. 
  20. ^ a b "Biographies of Commission Members and Staff". Michigan Law Revision Commission Thirty-first Annual Report, 1996. West Publishing Company. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  21. ^ "Oakland Press". Local News September 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  22. ^ Enders, David (November 26, 2002). "New York Times". National Briefing Michigan: Candidate Won't Seek Recount. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  23. ^ "2002 Attorney General Election Results". U.S. Election Atlas. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  24. ^ "The State News". Peters won't request for election recount. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  25. ^,4603,7-110-29196_29199---,00.html
  26. ^,4587,7-168-23442_21974-183233--,00.html
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  28. ^ "Swing State Project". 9th District. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  29. ^ Gray, Kathleen. "Democratic wave helps Peters win in 9th District". Detroit Free Press. 
  30. ^ State of Michigan. "9th District Representative in Congress 2 Year Term (1) Position Files In OAKLAND County". State of Michigan. 
  31. ^ Williams, AJ (Apr 10, 2014). "Peters On Why NMTC Is Plus For Detroit". Michigan Chronicle. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "Supreme Court Decision On Obamacare Inspires Reactions From Michigan Politicians". Huffington Post. Jun 28, 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "Truth Squad: Foul on ad accusing Gary Peters of supporting carbon tax". MLive. Jun 10, 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  34. ^ Reinhard, Beth (Apr 12, 2014). "Criticized by Obama, Senate Candidate Defends Fair-Pay Stance". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  35. ^ Helderop, Brandon (May 20, 2014). "Gary Peters inconsistent on equal pay". Oakland Press. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  36. ^ Heinlein, Gary (Oct 9, 2014). "Peters tries to paint moderate image". Detroit News. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  37. ^ "Debtholders vs. U.S. Over Chrysler Deal".  
  38. ^ "Peters, principally". Metro Times. 
  39. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (September 15, 2011). "House Republicans Seek Auto Industry Cuts To Cover For Disaster Relief Funds".  
  40. ^ "Peters criticizes Dem. leadership on spending". The Michigan Messenger.  
  41. ^ Aujla, Simmi. "Four House Democrats revolt".  
  42. ^ Fisher, Beth (November 6, 2011). "Occupy Detroit Gets Union Support".  
  43. ^ "Over 100 Democrats Join Reps. Crowley, Maloney, Lowey and Berman in Call for Continued Support of UNFPA". Joseph Crowley. November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  44. ^ Woods, Ashley. "Michigan's 'Rape Insurance' Abortion Rider Law Goes Into Effect Today". 
  45. ^ Spangler, Todd (9 January 2013). "Gary Peters nabs senior whip position in Congress". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  46. ^ Fritz Klug. "Democrat Gary Peters says he wants to continue Carl Levin's legacy in US Senate". MLive. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  47. ^ Klug, Fritz (23 May 2013). "U.S. Senators Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow endorse Gary Peters in 2014 U.S. Senate election". MLive. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ LeBlanc, Steve (Jul 13, 2014). "Elizabeth Warren Hits The Campaign Trail For Fellow Democrats". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "The Michigan Bar Journal". Gary Peters: A legal education put to many uses. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  57. ^ White, Ed (4 July 2013). "Report reveals assets of Senate candidate Gary Peters". Associated Press. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ url=
  61. ^ url=

Further reading

External links

  • Congressman Gary Peters official U.S. House site
  • Gary Peters for Congress
  • Gary Peters at DMOZ
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joe Knollenberg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Sander Levin
Preceded by
John Conyers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 14th congressional district

Succeeded by
Brenda Lawrence
Party political offices
Preceded by
Carl Levin
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 2)

Most recent
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