Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Sen. Gary Peters

Michigan Democrat drove a motorcycle across his state

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, shows off his in-office model of an Orion spacecraft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, 57, talks motorcycles, his childhood paper route and Michigan’s breweries.

Q: What’s your favorite hobby?

A: My favorite hobby is riding motorcycles. When I go back to Michigan and get on a motorcycle, it’s kind of my way of having an escape — to get away from cellphones, get away from any kind of communications, to have the wind blown in your face. When I was back in August, I did a motorcycle tour across Michigan and visited local communities and met with small business owners, community leaders, veterans and service members. We rode 833 miles through 26 counties over five days.

Q: Being from Michigan, what’s your favorite type of car?

A: Well, I have to say any American-made car is my favorite car, being from Michigan. My two favorite things about a car are horsepower and torque. But I’m also very engaged in the future of the auto industry, which is vehicle-to-vehicle communications and eventually autonomous vehicles that drive themselves. I’ve been very active in making sure Michigan is the center of the universe when it comes to automotive technology.

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Peters' first job was a paper route when he was 11 years old. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Peters' first job was a paper route when he was 11 years old. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Q: What was the first job you had?

A: Paper route. The reason I took that job at 11 is that I really wanted a mini bike — back to my passion of motorcycles — and my mother said they’re too dangerous. And the only way I would ever have one is if I bought it myself. I went out and got a paper route, started at 11 and did it for about a year. Saved up all my money and then went to my mother and said, ‘I now have the money for a mini bike’ and she could not say no.

Q: Who do you root for between Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Notre Dame?

A: There’s no question I’m a passionate Michigan State Spartans fan, but I have a daughter at the University of Michigan and I have a son who graduated from Notre Dame. I joke that when both teams take the field, my heart is always with Michigan State but I’m sending all my money to Ann Arbor.

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Q: What’s one thing people don’t know about Michigan?

A: Our very vibrant craft beverage industry, which includes a now growing, highly acclaimed wine industry. One of our cities, Grand Rapids, is titled Beer City, USA. And we also now rank third in micro distilleries in the country.

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