August 22nd, 2010
09:00 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN 100: Peters facing a 'Rocky' road to re-election?

 The CNN 100 takes a look at the top 100 House races, from now until Election Day.
The CNN 100 takes a look at the top 100 House races, from now until Election Day.

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:

Michigan 9: Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is seeking a second term

Primary: August 3, 2010
Location: Northern Detroit suburbs
Days until Election Day: 72

(CNN) – In a year when Republicans are expected to make significant electoral gains, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is hoping to stem the tide by highlighting his fiscal conservatism and - more than likely – his Republican opponent's comments on President Obama's citizenship.

Former state Rep. Andrew 'Rocky' Raczkowski, who won the Republican primary on August 3, recently told Politico that he wanted to see Obama's birth certificate. He later backtracked, saying his comment was taken out of context and that he didn't question where Obama was born.

The flap, however, was enough to create a surprising boon for Peters' campaign to seize on – and ultimately highlight the differences between the two.

A former Michigan lottery commissioner, Peters has made a point to push for financial regulatory reform and middle class relief since taking office in 2009. And rightly so, considering his state faces one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Oakland County, just north of Detroit, was once considered the home of the "Reagan Democrats," but a lot has changed since the 1980s. For starters, Obama won the district with 56 percent of the vote in 2008 (George W. Bush carried the ninth with 51 percent four years earlier).

The ninth has the highest median income of any district in Michigan, and is home to well-to-do suburbs and "edge cities" like Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, and Auburn Hills. But the economic woes of the Detroit-based auto industry have hurt parts of the district, particularly Pontiac, with a large African-American population, and Orion.

Though he is a fiscal conservative, Peters has supported much of President Obama's economic agenda, including the economic stimulus plan, the 2010 budget and pay-as-you-go budgeting. He is also somewhat socially moderate - voting to protecting gays and lesbians from hate crimes, passing the health care reform bill, and voting against allowing guns in national parks.

A major with the U.S. Army Reserves, Raczkowski has made a name for himself in Michigan GOP circles. He was elected to the state House in 1996 and was chosen, according to his website, by fellow House members to "serve as the youngest Majority Leader in the nation." He took on Sen. Carl Levin in the 2002 Senate race, but lost badly to the popular Democrat.

Financially, things are looking good for Peters. As of July 14, 2010, Peters has raised $2,331,179 and has $1,927,846 cash on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Raczkowski, meanwhile, has raised $804,987 but has only $215,088 cash on hand.

In 2008, Peters took on eight-term Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg. According to the Almanac of American Politics, Peters made middle class tax cuts a key campaign promise - though he "didn't swear off raising taxes on the wealthy, a group that includes many of his district's constituents."

In the end, Peters took home 52 percent of the vote to Knollenberg's 42 percent. Interestingly enough, Jack Kevorkian - noted assisted suicide doctor - ran as an independent and took in 3 percent of the vote.


Filed under: 2010 • CNN 100 • Michigan
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Minesh - troy, MI

    I will make sure Gary Peters loses! Rocky rocks

    August 22, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. Seattle Sue

    Any one that believes President Obama was not born in the United States is either so radical and not believing his birth certificate that the Republican Governor of Hawaii checked and the birth announcement listed in the two newspapers in Hawaii. Or just plain stupid!

    August 22, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. jon

    As a West Bloomfield independent, I would like the voters in the 9th to throw Peters out in this year's midterm. Since he was elected, Peters has been no more than the mouthpiece and defender of Obama's job-killing policies. No wonder we Michiganians have the highest jobless rate in the country during last few years.

    August 22, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Sue

    'Though he is a fiscal conservative, Peters has supported much of President Obama's economic agenda, including the economic stimulus plan, the 2010 budget and pay-as-you-go budgeting.'

    --When talking about Democrats currently in office-–using the words Democrat and fiscally conservative, is an oxymoron.

    August 22, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. FactChecker

    CNN, you might want to fire your current fact checker (or maybe the author). Oakland County is NOT the home of "Reagan Democrats." The home of the "Reagan Democrat" is in Macomb County, to the East of Oakland.

    August 22, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |