By Adil James, MMNS
West Bloomfield—June 7—Perhaps there is a mold somewhere of the ideal politician—intelligence, charisma, knowledge of the appropriate clothes and appropriate words, the competence to build a staff to support him and to study the issues with an eye to saying the right thing on those issues—having met several politicians one learns what to expect from the ones who are likely to succeed– if there is such a mold, then Gary Peters fits it.
About 25 attentive listeners attended the fundraiser that Peters attended at the home of Dr. Yahya Basha. They were from wealthy segments of Michigan’s Arab community, some of them politically involved and active in Michigan’s powerful Arab not-for-profit organizations.
Mr. Peters is a Democratic candidate for a seat in the US House of Representatives for the 9th Congressional District of Michigan, which has about 470,000 registered voters in the area roughly bounded by the Troy, Rochester Hills, Waterford, Royal Oak, and Farmington Hills areas.
Mr. Peters is a veteran of the Navy. He was a state senator from 1994 until he was “term-limited out.” Governor Granholm appointed him as Michigan’s Lottery Commissioner, a position he recently left in order to become a university professor. He is also an attorney.
Peters is challenging Rep. Joe Knollenburg (R-9th-MI), who has now been in office for approximately 16 years, with a very modest record of legislative accomplishments; under the Bush presidency Knollenburg has adhered to the Bush party line approximately 95% of the time in his voting.
Knollenburg won in 2004 by a less than 2% margin against a Democratic challenger (Nancy Skinner) in this narrowly Republican district.
Speaking, Peters showed that he was well-versed on all hot-button issues, including health care, oil, and the debt crisis. “These are issues I really care about,” he said.
The Knollenburg-Peters contest is not on the list of approximately 30 “hot races” on electoral-vote.com, but is listed as “leaning Republican” currently on the Wikipedia House-race-watch site. On the June 5 Cook Political Report on competitive House races, the race is also listed as “lean Republican.”
Given the current political climate, Gary Peters’ name recognition and experience in elections and with the Democratic party machine in Michigan, and the closeness of Knollenburg’s wins in 2004 and 2006, Gary Peters will almost certainly be within 1% of Joseph Knollenburg, and despite the wikipedia polls the energy and confidence and momentum in his campaign lends credence to his potential win.
Another indicator is the web presence of the two candidates. Unbelievably, Knollenburg’s own websites do not even appear in google searches of his name, whereas sites attacking him and supporting Gary Peters are overwhelmingly visible. This betrays a younger, stronger campaign by Peters.
Based on an up-close look at this particular campaign, the “lean Republican” estimates look awry. If and when he wins, we have to hope and pray that Senator Peters is more committed to actually helping people than those who have preceded him in office, that his willingness to help exceeds or matches his God-given talents of speaking and presenting himself.