Changing of the Guard in U.S. Senate for Michigan — Gary Peters Steps Up to Replace Levin

Congressman Peters announced Wednesday he will run for the U.S. Senate. He will speak in Livingston County later this month.
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Congressman Peters announced Wednesday he will run for the U.S. Senate. He will speak in Livingston County later this month.
Congressman Peters announced Wednesday he will run for the U.S. Senate. He will speak in Livingston County later this month.

Michigan’s representation in the U.S. Senate is in for a big change in 2014. That’s when U.S. Sen. Carl Levin steps down after representing our state for six terms.

The U.S. Senate is an exclusive club – only 100 members – and Carl Levin year after year has been considered one of the best of the very small bunch. Time Magazine even named him one of the Senate’s 10 best senators in 2006.

The pundits already are beginning the guessing game of who will run to replace him. On the Democratic side, the guesses focused on U.S. Congressman Gary C. Peters. Peters made it official on Wednesday (May 1, 2013) with the announcement that he will indeed seek the Democratic nomination for Levin’s seat. Others, such as long-time Democratic activist Debbie Dingell, have stepped aside.

And as luck (and good planning) will have it, Congressman Peters will be in Livingston County later this month. Peters will be a special guest speaker at the Livingston County Democrats’ 30th annual Winans Dinner on May 18, giving Livingston County residents a chance to hear about his campaign first-hand.

This year’s dinner is a warm-up for 2014 when Democrats statewide will be working hard to elect a Democratic senator, a Democratic governor, and take back the Michigan House. At the local level, Democrats plan to again field a strong field of candidates for Livingston County Commission, the two open state House seats, and the state Senate seat.

The theme of this year’s dinner is “Fairness for All,” a reflection of the mounting complaints among Michigan residents about the unfairness of Republican policies in Lansing that have taxed seniors’ pensions, attacked working families, raised taxes on the poorest citizens, and made teachers into targets.

Fairness is the bedrock of what we Democrats believe – fairness for working families, for women, for minorities, for public school students. Democrats believe that our economy and our nation work best when the rules are fair – when everybody has a chance to succeed, not just a few.

The speakers for the event are ideally suited to highlighting the issue of fairness. Now in his third term in Congress, Peters fought to rescue the American auto industry when it was on its back and thousands of people were out of work through no fault of their own.

As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Congressman Peters also played a central role in shaping a tough financial reform law that eliminates future taxpayer funded bailouts, bans the irresponsible behavior on Wall Street that caused the recession, and provides common sense financial protections for regular Americans. He represents Michigan’s 14th Congressional District which includes parts of Oakland and Wayne counties.

The Senate seat he is seeking has been in Democratic hands since 1978 and Republicans have not won a Senate seat in Michigan since Spencer Abraham in 1994. Peters will be the Democratic Party’s best shot at keeping our string going.

Cindy Estrada, the first Latina vice president of the UAW, will speak at the Livingston Dems' Dinner May 18.
Cindy Estrada, the first Latina vice president of the UAW, will speak at the Livingston Dems’ Dinner May 18.

Peters joins the dinner’s keynote speaker in being a voice for working families. Cindy Estrada, the first Latina vice president of the United Auto Workers, will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Estrada, who is known as a dynamic and engaging speaker, is a long-time union organizer and social activist who lives in Livingston County’s Hamburg Township.

Ms. Estrada grew up listening to stories from her grandparents and other relatives about working in factories or in the fields. In 1993, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and then took a job with the United Farm Workers of America, helping organize those who pick the fruits and vegetables that end up on our kitchen tables.

Ms. Estrada joined UAW Local 174 in Romulus in 1995 and quickly moved up within the ranks of the organization. In 1999 Ms. Estrada led the effort to organize Mexican Industries in Detroit, one of the UAW’s largest victories in organizing Spanish-speaking workers in the manufacturing sector. She joined the UAW international staff in 2000 and was elected a vice president in 2010.

Also speaking will be Mark Totten, a law professor at Michigan State University and a former prosecutor.  At Michigan State, his work has focused on the role of state attorneys-general under Wall Street reform and consumer protection legislation and what states can do to prevent another recession.

Mr. Totten has created a website analyzing the performance of Michigan’s current attorney general, Republican Bill Schuette. The website, www.agforus.com, notes that Schuette has used the office to advance his own political career and a narrow political agenda rather than advocate for the citizens of Michigan.

Besides an opportunity to hear from these top-notch speakers, the evening will also be a great chance to get the scoop on what’s happening in the Democratic Party, both locally and at the state level, and to meet other Democrats in a social setting.

The event, at Lakelands Golf and Country Club, 8690 Chilson Road in Hamburg Township, will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Besides a terrific lineup of speakers, the evening also includes live music, snacks, dessert, and a silent auction. A vegetarian dinner option is available with advance notice. Valet parking also is being provided.

Tickets are $65 per person. Tickets may be reserved with a credit card through ActBlue, an on-line clearinghouse that supports Democratic causes, at https://secure.actblue.com/page/winans.

Or checks may be sent to Livingston County Democrats, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116. Please include the number of tickets, and the names of attendees so that name tags can be prepared. Patron ads in the program may also be purchased for just $12 per person.

You also may make a reservation by calling party headquarters at (810) 229-4212 or emailing the information to livcodems@gmail.com and pay at the door. Checks only, no cash per state law.