Rep. Gary Peters (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: Dec. 1, 1958, Pontiac .
Home: Bloomfield Township.
Education: Alma Col., B.A. 1980; U. of Detroit, M.B.A. 1984; Wayne St. U., J.D. 1989; MI St. U., M.A. 2007.
Family: Married (Colleen); 3 children.
Military career: Naval Reserve, 1993-2005.
Elected office: Rochester Hills Cty. Cncl, 1991-93; MI Senate, 1995-2002.
Professional Career: Merril Lynch, asst. v.p., 1980-89; UBS/Paine Webber, v.p., 1989-2003; Michigan Lottery commissioner, 2003-07; Central MI U., professor 2007-08.
The new congressman from the 9th District is Gary Peters, a Democrat elected in 2008. A fifth-generation Oakland County native, Peters grew up in Pontiac. While not known for his flair on the campaign trail, Peters has a broad array of interests. He had early success in his business career. He was vice president of investments for Paine Webber from 1989 to 2003, and before that he was an executive with Merrill Lynch for nine years. At age 34, Peters became a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserves, training as a sharpshooter and ultimately spending a dozen years in the Reserves. In the early 1990s, he got involved in politics, landing a seat on the Rochester Hills City Council, where he helped unearth an overcharge to the city that saved taxpayers $400,000. In 1995, he was elected to the state Senate, where he pushed legislation to cut taxes for the middle class and to improve access to children’s health insurance. He also led an effort to ban oil drilling in the Great Lakes. In 2002, Peters became the state’s lottery commissioner. The Detroit Free-Press later praised him for increasing lottery sales.
|Gary Peters (D)||183,311||(52%)||($2,509,019)|
|Joe Knollenberg (R)||150,035||(43%)||($4,135,864)|
|Jack Kevorkian (I)||8,987||(3%)||($880)|
|Gary Peters (D)||Unopposed|
In the 2008 election, he challenged eight-term Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg. A fiscal conservative, Peters talked about middle-class tax cuts during the campaign, but didn’t swear off raising taxes on the wealthy, a group that includes many of his district’s constituents. Knollenberg criticized him for that stance. Peters attacked the incumbent for voting against legislation to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Knollenberg had faced some difficult races during the previous 16 years, but none that challenged him on nearly every front. He started out with a financial edge, but with the help of the national Democratic Party, Peters was able to bridge the gap. GOP presidential nominee John McCain pulled out of Michigan, making a tough political environment for Michigan Republicans even worse. Knollenberg also lost the endorsement of the powerful United Auto Workers, which backed Peters, despite Knollenberg’s leadership in securing a $25 billion bailout for the industry. The incumbent tried to distance himself from the unpopular Bush administration and the GOP, even skipping the Republican National Convention in September.
A crowded field in the general election favored Knollenberg. The three other candidates, including the assisted-suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian, were expected to pull votes away from Peters. But the affluent district was mired in an economic downturn, which fueled anti-Republican sentiment. Peters defeated Knollenberg 52% to 43%; Kevorkian received 3% of the vote.
Peters sits on the Financial Services Committee and the Science and Technology Committee. In March 2009, he introduced legislation to place a surtax on bonuses paid to employees of companies that had received large sums of federal bailout money, but worded so as to encompass only insurance giant AIG. The proposed surtax, combined with existing federal and state taxes, would in effect tax the bonuses at a rate of 100%, returning the entire amount to the taxpayers.