Gary Peters (Michigan Politician)

Gary Peters
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 14th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by John Conyers
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
Commissioner of the Michigan Lottery
In office
April 30, 2003 – January 13, 2008
Governor Jennifer Granholm
Preceded by Jim Kipp
Succeeded by Scott Bowen
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 14th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2002
Preceded by  ???
Succeeded by Gilda Jacobs
Personal details
Born (1958-12-01) December 1, 1958 (age 55)
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 Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist
United States Navy Reserve
Awards Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Gary Peters (born December 1, 1958)[1] 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 is a member of the Democratic Party. He previously represented Michigan's 9th congressional district from 2009 to 2013. Prior to his election to Congress, Peters represented the 14th District in the Michigan Senate and was a political science professor at Central Michigan University. Following the redrawing of congressional district boundaries after the 2010 United States Census, Peters won re-election in the newly redrawn 14th District.[2] In 2013, Peters announced his intention to run in the 2014 election for the United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Carl Levin.[3]

Early life, education, and military service

Peters was born December 1, 1958 in Pontiac, where he grew up. He graduated from Alma College in 1980 and received a master of business administration degree from the University of Detroit in 1984. Peters also holds a degree 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 Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist 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.

Business and academic career

Peters served as the third Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University from 2007 until his election to Congress. Peters also has taught finance at Wayne State and strategic management and business policy courses at Oakland University.

He has also been a senior policy and financial analyst for the Michigan Department of Treasury and a vice president at Merrill Lynch, Paine Webber and UBS Financial Services. He has 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.[4] 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.[5] Peters authored a bill that led to the criminalization of the possession of body armor by convicted felons. He also wrote a bill that was the initial establishment of penalties for false threats of chemical and biological weapons, which became law before the September 11, 2001 attacks.[4]

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.[4]

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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.[9][10][11]

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.

National Democrats and local pundits considered Peters to be a strong candidate. 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.[12]

Peters easily 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 only the fourth person to represent this district since its creation in 1933, and the first Democrat (it was the 17th District from 1933 to 1953, the 18th from 1953 to 1973, the 19th from 1973 to 1983, the 18th again from 1983 to 1993, the 11th from 1993 to 2003 and had been the 9th since 2003).[13]


Peters defeated challenges by Republican Andrew (Rocky) Raczkowski, Libertarian Adam Goodman, Independent Bob Gray, Independent Matthew Kuofie, and Green Douglas Campbell.[14]


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 crushed Republican John Hauler in the general election with 82 percent of the vote--one of the largest margins for a Democrat facing major-party opposition. He is the first white congressman to represent a significant portion of Detroit since 1993.


Gary Peters was sworn into his first term in January 2009. During his time in office, he's voted for all of the major Democratic issues including the Recovery Act, Affordable Care Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, The Monsanto Protection Act, and the DREAM Act.

Peters worked with the Obama Administration to get GM and Chrysler the loans they needed to survive.[15] 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.[16] In Congress, Peters worked to stop the GOP from cutting $1.5 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.[17] Peters also played a role in writing and passing the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as one of 10 Democratic members of Congress tasked to serve on the Conference Committee.[18] In this capacity, Peters worked to include his Shareholder Empowerment Act[19] in the final legislation. This legislation gave shareholders the power to vote on CEO bonuses and wages.[20]

Peters helped lead President Obama's effort in Congress to prevent subsidized Stafford student loan rates from doubling on July 1.[21] Peters is the lead co-sponsor on H.R. 3826 which would prevent this rate hike.[22] Back in Michigan, Peters has held events calling for Republicans to stop opposing this cut.[23]

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.”[24] “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.”[25]

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."[26]

On the issue of abortion, Peters has received (100%) ratings consistently from pro-choice groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In addition, he was one of 118 house Democrats who signed a letter to the president urging him to support the United National Population Fund (UNFPA), a multinational organization that provides health services (including Birth control) to women, children and families in over 150 countries.[27]

Committee assignments


Senior Whip

2014 U.S. Senate election

Main article: United States Senate election in Michigan, 2014

Peters has announced his intention to run in the 2014 election for the United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Senator Carl Levin.[28]

Personal life

Peters is married to Colleen Ochoa from Waterford and they have three children. They reside in Bloomfield Hills.[29]

Electoral history

Main article: Electoral history of Gary Peters


External links

Biography portal
  • Congressman Gary Peters official U.S. House site
  • Gary Peters for Congress
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Ballotpedia
  • NNDB
  • Project Vote Smart
  • GovTrack
  • OpenCongress
  • Roll Call
  • Federal Election Commission
  • The Washington Post
  • On the Issues
  • The Library of Congress
  • The Washington Post
  • C-SPAN programs
  • Bloomberg News
  • The Washington Post
  • Follow the Money - Gary Peters
    • 2002 Attorney General campaign contributions
    • 2000 Governor campaign contributions
    • 1998 State Senate campaign contributions
  • SourceWatch
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

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Erik Paulsen
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Chellie Pingree
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.