No-Name Democratic Sen. Gary Peters Could Lose Michigan Seat to Republican John James

'I think what Michiganders want is someone who rolls up their sleeves...'

(Headline USA) Call him low-key, understated, maybe even “boring.”

First-term Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan is betting voters care more about his effectiveness, as he desperately fights to keep a seat his party is counting on to take the Senate majority.

The bespectacled, bearded 61-year-old former investment adviser is a rare Senate candidate this cycle, a Democrat running in a battleground state Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Peters is finding it tougher than expected to shake top Republican recruit John James, a black business executive and combat veteran.

Michigan has something it has not seen in 20 years — a competitive Senate contest — with control of the chamber hanging in the balance and Peters trying to cut through a polarizing political climate.

Peters was the only non-incumbent Democrat to win a Senate election in 2014, when he prevailed easily despite the GOP’s successes nationally and in Michigan.

He told The Associated Press his reelection campaign is “basically me just focusing on my job.”

“I think what Michiganders want is someone who rolls up their sleeves, gets things done, not out there throwing rocks all the time,” Peters said.

Some allies fret that it has been tough for the nonflashy Peters to stand out.

In a change from 2018, when James lost by 6.5 percentage points to the state’s senior senator, Debbie Stabenow, James has outraised Peters since announcing his candidacy.

Super PACs and other outside groups on both sides are spending heavily in one of Republicans’ few pickup opportunities on the Senate map.

“Biden’s numbers are stable. He seems to be consolidating exactly the coalition of voters” that propelled Democrats to Michigan’s top offices in 2018, said Lonnie Scott, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan.

“That is just not the case with Peters.”

“I think 2016 showed that we can’t take anything for granted,” Scott said.

Peters touted his governing approach at a small get-out-the-vote campaign event Friday in downtown Grand Rapids, which remained quiet because of the pandemic.

He said he ranks as one of the most bipartisan Senate Democrats and, despite being a freshman in the minority, has written and passed more of his bills than any other senator.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.


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