Peters was a state senator 1994-2002 and lost a close race for Attorney General in 2002 to Mike Cox. He was lottery commissioner in the Granholm administration. In 2008 he defeated Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg in a marginal district in a bad year for Republicans. In 2010, he narrowly survived against a flawed Republican challenger.
In 2012, Michigan lost a congressional district due to population loss. Peters' district was dismantled, and he was placed in the same district as fellow democrat Sander Levin. He chose instead to run against black democrat incumbent Hansen Clarke in the neighboring 14th district.
The 14th district is 57% black. Due to population loss, it expanded into Oakland County, picking up black-majority Pontiac and Southfield and the white democrat areas of Farmington and West Bloomfield in between. The old version of the district was held by Hansen Clarke, a black democrat who had won a primary challenge against Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Clarke was initially thought to be the favorite over Peters (and several minor candidates) due to geography and race. But then a funny thing happened. Peters got almost all the major endorsements in the race, including most of the black democrat establishment in Detroit.
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters gains endorsements, adding Detroit muscle to his bid
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, council members Andre Spivey and James Tate and former councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, state Reps. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi and Thomas Stallworth, state Sen. Virgil smith and Wayne County Commissioner Burton Leland, all announced endorsements of Peters on Thursday.Rep. Gary Peters wins Black Slate endorsement in Detroit
Peters has been racking up endorsements at an impressive clip, including those from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, several Detroit members of the state Legislature, the UAW, Michigan AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-Michigan Council 25 and several others.Why would they endorse a white guy from Oakland County? Many folks speculated at the time that Peters had made a deal with them. After ousting Clarke, he would serve only one term before running for Senate or Governor. That would leave the seat open for the establishment to fill.
Of course, Peters won the primary. Shortly after the election, Peters made an interesting hire.
After serving time for bribe charge, Kandia Milton is hired by Congressman Gary Peters
The former chief of staff to Kwame Kilpatrick told a federal judge in 2010 that he took $20,000 in exchange for pushing through the sale of city property. He served 14 months in federal prison, was released about a year ago and started two years of supervised release.Whatever else you might say about Peters, he isn't stupid. Why else would he hire a convicted criminal unless he was paying off a political debt?
Now Peters is indeed vacating his seat after one term.
Peters chose to ally himself with the Detroit political establishment to stay in office. The Michigan GOP should hammer him over this.