GOP group spends $9 million to lie about how often Sen. Gary Peters shows up to work


Actually, the Michigan Democrat has never missed a single floor vote in the Senate.

The 2020 race for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat is tight, with incumbent Democrat Sen. Gary Peters neck and neck with challenger John James — but a misleading recent ad by a GOP super PAC could skew the outcome.

The $9 million ad, bought by the Senate Leadership Fund, a top right-wing super PAC, purports to "hold Gary Peters accountable" while advocating for his opponent, Republican businessman James.

"The only thing Gary Peters has accomplished over his years in Washington is to keep Michigan's U.S. Senate seat warm for his successor," said the PAC's president, Steven Law. "That person is going to be John James — an incredibly impressive advocate for Michigan families and jobs who is taking the fight to Peters for leaving Michiganders hanging during a pandemic."

The campaign spokesperson for Peters, Vanessa Valdivia, said in a statement published by the Hill: "Mitch McConnell’s allies are spending over $16 million to prop up James because they want another vote to gut pre-existing conditions coverage, undermine a woman’s right to choose, and obstruct Great Lakes funding."

In 2018, James gained notoriety for running a campaign ad featuring a swastika posted on the wall in a school hallway, ostensibly by accident.

In other recent ads, James has referred to Peters as "the invisible man, the politician known for doing nothing." He's asserted that Peters has done nothing for the Michigan economy and "doesn't show up for work," citing that he's missed 84% of small business hearings in the past.

While it's true that Peters missed 43 of 51 Small Business Committee hearings when he served on the committee, what the James campaign doesn't mention is that that was nearly a decade ago — during the senator's time in the House of Representatives prior to being elected to the Senate.

And, Georgetown University political scientist Joshua Huder has noted in the Detroit Free Press, "A lot of times committees will schedule hearings at the same time, making it virtually impossible to attend, in a meaningful sense, all of them." Peters also served on the House Financial Services Committee.

A more meaningful barometer for Peters' level of recent activity in the Senate would be how often he misses a floor vote, which is, apparently, never. In 2019, Peters missed zero floor votes, and is tied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as 13 others, for perfect vote attendance in the chamber.

And, in 2017 and 2018, Peters was ranked the fourth-most effective Democratic senator by the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt University. These rankings are obtained by looking at how many bills politicians have sponsored, how far in the process those bills got, and how important the policy changes being implemented are.

By all accounts, Peters works well in partnerships across the aisle, too: The nonpartisan Lugar Center ranked him the fourth-most bipartisan Democrat in 2018 and the third-most bipartisan Democrat in 2019. In 2020, he passed more bills than any other senator.

He's also been the sponsor of legislation enhancing apprenticeship programs and wrote an amendment to enable veterans discharged less than honorably to still receive PTSD services.

Effectiveness may be in the eye of the beholder, but invisible Peters is not. And if he loses reelection in Michigan, it will make it harder than ever for Democrats to take back the Senate.

And, with the Michigan Senate race in a dead heat — James and Peters are polling at 47% and 47% among likely voters, according to the most recent Trafalgar Group survey — such misleading information leveled against Peters is a naked grab for votes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.