Michigan’s Gary Peters to lead Senate Democrats’ campaign arm

Peters takes the helm after winning a close race in 2020

Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters will be the next chairman of the DSCC.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters will be the next chairman of the DSCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 28, 2021 at 10:43am

Fresh off his own hotly contested reelection race, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters has been chosen to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in an election cycle where his party is defending the narrowest of Senate majorities. 

Four Democratic Senate seats up in 2022 are expected to be competitive, as are four GOP seats, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The Senate is currently tied with 50 Republicans and 50 senators who caucus with Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes.

“We have a great opportunity in 2022 to defend and expand our Democratic majority so we can keep working to protect our health, rebuild our economy stronger than before and deliver real progress for the American people,” Peters said in a statement. He praised the work done in the last election cycle by Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, whose seat is up in 2022.

Peters is the first Midwesterner to run the committee in decades, according to a statement from the committee.

Peters is no stranger to difficult election cycles. He was the lone Democrat newly elected to the Senate in 2014, when Republicans took control of the Senate. 

In 2020, Peters was a top GOP target as one of two senators running in states that Donald Trump carried in 2016. More than $96 million in outside spending poured into the state from both parties, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., praised Peters as hardworking and disciplined.

"The DSCC is dedicated to working with grassroots organizations to mobilize voters and with someone like Gary at the helm, who is battle-tested and understands firsthand what it takes to win challenging battleground races, Senate Democrats will be well-positioned to continue to win," Schumer said.

Throughout much of the 2020 campaign, Peters' fundraising lagged behind that of his Republican opponent, Army veteran John James. But he kept pace and matched James' hauls late in the race. Peters broke fundraising records for Michigan Democrats, and he ended up raising $52.2 million compared to James' $48.3 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Peters defeated James by nearly 2 percentage points, but he ran slightly behind President Joe Biden, who won Michigan by 3 points. Peters did perform slightly better than Biden in some counties, including Macomb County, outside of Detroit, and Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Peters worked as a financial advisor before starting his political career in 1991, winning a seat on the Rochester Hills City Council. He went on to serve in the state Senate, made an unsuccessful run for attorney general and led the Michigan Lottery Bureau. A former lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve, Peters was elected to the House in 2008 and served there until he ran for Senate.