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Democrat

Rep. Gary Peters (D)

Gary Peters Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-5802

Address: 1609 LHOB, DC 20515

State Office Contact Information

Phone: (313) 964-9960

Address: 400 Monroe Street, Detroit MI 48226-9960

Gary Peters Staff
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Gary Peters Committees
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Gary Peters Biography
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  • Elected: 2008, 3rd term.
  • District: Michigan 14
  • Born: Dec. 01, 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

  • 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.

  • Military Career:

    Naval Reserve, 1993-2005.

  • Political Career:

    Rochester Hills Cty. Cncl, 1991-93; MI Senate, 1995-2002.

  • Ethnicity: White/Caucasian
  • Religion:

    Episcopalian

  • Family: Married (Colleen); 3 children

Gary Peters, a Democrat elected in 2008, is a wonky veteran of Michigan politics whose stalwart defense of the auto industry led him to be dubbed “the Congressman from Chrysler.” After redistricting, Peters in 2012 successfully challenged a fellow incumbent Democrat, Rep. Hansen Clarke, to represent the majority-minority 14th District, and the following year announced he would run for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Carl Levin. Read More

Gary Peters, a Democrat elected in 2008, is a wonky veteran of Michigan politics whose stalwart defense of the auto industry led him to be dubbed “the Congressman from Chrysler.” After redistricting, Peters in 2012 successfully challenged a fellow incumbent Democrat, Rep. Hansen Clarke, to represent the majority-minority 14th District, and the following year announced he would run for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Carl Levin.

A fifth-generation Oakland County native, Peters grew up in Pontiac and went on to earn a passel of degrees: a bachelor’s from Alma College, an M.B.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy, a law degree from Wayne State University, and a master’s in philosophy from Michigan State. 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 Reserve, 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. He was elected in 1994 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. Peters became the state’s lottery commissioner in 2003.

In 2008, Peters 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, and Knollenberg criticized him for that stance. Peters attacked the incumbent for voting against legislation to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Knollenberg started out with a financial edge, but with the help of the national Democratic Party, Peters was able to bridge the gap. Knollenberg also lost the endorsement of the powerful United Auto Workers, which backed Peters, despite Knollenberg’s help in securing a $25 billion bailout for the industry.

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 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 has been a fairly loyal Democrat, backing his party on major votes but showing his independence at times. He joined three other junior House Democrats in 2010 to propose major cuts in defense, energy, and other areas. He voted against the 2011 bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, saying that the measure didn’t close tax loopholes. Angry about corporate outsourcing, he tried to amend a House-passed jobs bill in March 2012 to require large publicly traded companies to disclose how many of their employees are based domestically instead of overseas, but his proposal was defeated on a largely party-line vote.

In the 113th Congress (2013-14), Democratic leaders made Peters a senior whip and appointed him as a recruiting vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. With his background at Merrill Lynch, he was an obvious choice for the Financial Services Committee. In March 2009, he introduced legislation to place a surtax on bonuses paid to employees of insurance giant AIG, which was bailed out by the government. Later that year, during debate on requiring private pools of capital to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he got a provision through the committee that exempted firms with less than $150 million in assets. In a surprise move, he was put on the 2010 conference committee on the financial services overhaul as a way of boosting his prospects at election time. Peters was able to add a provision to the bill that helped automakers’ financing businesses. When the federal government sold the last of its stake in Chrysler to Fiat in July 2011, Peters told The New York Times, “It’s hard to make the argument that this was not a good investment.”

Peters was challenged in 2010 by state Rep. Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski, a former Army reservist who won a four-way GOP primary. Raczkowski’s prospects dimmed when a video clip aired of him questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship and when Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative Eagle Forum, contended at a Raczkowski fundraiser that unmarried women voted for Obama because they wanted government benefits. Raczkowski also could not keep pace with Peters in fundraising. Bucking the Republican tide that year, Peters won 50%-47%.

Michigan lost one of its congressional seats in 2012 because of its declining population, and the GOP-led redistricting process forced Peters into a district with Clarke, who won the seat after defeating 14-year incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the 2010 Democratic primary. The primary race took a bizarre turn when a supporter of another candidate, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, discovered that the death certificate of Clarke’s mother listed her as white. Clarke, who had said his mother was a light-skinned black woman, denounced the notion that he misrepresented himself. Peters had some ties to the new district from his state Senate days, and he courted labor unions and church leaders. He won 47% of the vote to Clarke’s 35%, with Lawrence finishing a distant third. He went on to easily prevail in the general election.

After Levin's decision to end a Senate career that began during President Jimmy Carter's administration, Peters quickly entered the race, casting himself as a stalwart defender of middle-class interests. "I’ve always believed that the things middle class families struggle with around their kitchen tables should define my work in Washington," he said upon announcing his candidacy.

Though he was able to fend of any competitors from his party, his campaign initially encountered some obstacles, and a series of polls showed former GOP Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land ahead of him. Land was regarded as a rare Republican acceptable to both the establishment and tea-party wings of the GOP, but Democrats accused her of not clearly articulating her views or engaging with the news media. By mid-July, Peters had pulled ahead in some polls, but analysts expected a tight race all the way to November.

Show Less
Gary Peters Election Results
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2012 General
Gary Peters (D)
Votes: 270,450
Percent: 82.26%
John Hauler
Votes: 51,395
Percent: 15.63%
2012 Primary
Gary Peters (D)
Votes: 41,230
Percent: 47.03%
Hansen Clarke (D)
Votes: 30,847
Percent: 35.19%
Brenda Lawrence (D)
Votes: 11,644
Percent: 13.28%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (50%), 2008 (52%)
Gary Peters Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 63 (L) : 37 (C) 76 (L) : 23 (C) 69 (L) : 31 (C)
Social 61 (L) : 39 (C) 81 (L) : 15 (C) 64 (L) : 36 (C)
Foreign 59 (L) : 41 (C) 70 (L) : 29 (C) 60 (L) : 40 (C)
Composite 61.0 (L) : 39.0 (C) 76.7 (L) : 23.3 (C) 64.3 (L) : 35.7 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC00
LCV7494
CFG1117
ITIC-58
NTU2117
20112012
COC27-
ACLU-84
ACU48
ADA7580
AFSCME100-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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