---- — LANSING — U.S. Rep. Gary Peters on Wednesday announced his candidacy for retiring Sen. Carl Levin’s seat, officially entering a Democratic field that has been all but cleared for his campaign.
The 54-year-old three-term congressman is a former state senator and lottery commissioner who won bare-knuckle House races in 2008 and 2010. He is from Bloomfield Township in Oakland County, a suburban Detroit bellwether important to winning a statewide race.
“This is a critical time for Michigan, and our main streets and middle class need an independent voice fighting for them,” Peters wrote in an email to supporters. “Washington is a mess, but Michigan is on the verge of re-inventing itself with a new economy and a middle class that’s stronger than ever — and I want to be on the front lines of that fight.”
Peters already has more than $800,000 to go toward his campaign. Debbie Dingell, a former General Motors executive and wife of Democratic Rep. John Dingell, recently opted not to run.
Peters was expected to meet with reporters in Rochester in the afternoon. He said he is planning to stop in the Detroit area, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Flint later this week.
The GOP’s Senate campaign committee is hoping to coax seven-term Rep. Mike Rogers into the race. Other Republicans who have expressed interest include former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and two-term Rep. Justin Amash, a favorite of tea-party enthusiasts and libertarians.
Though Republicans control state government — including the governorship and Legislature — Democrats have fared well in federal elections in a state that has gone for Democrats in six straight presidential elections.
Just one Republican has won one of Michigan’s Senate seats in 40 years. Spencer Abraham’s 1994 win came in a non-presidential election year like 2014 will be.