Democrat Gary Peters hangs onto his Senate seat


Republican Senate hopeful John James, left, and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters. - JOHN JAMES CAMPAIGN, U.S. SENATE
  • John James campaign, U.S. Senate
  • Republican Senate hopeful John James, left, and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

Following a contest that wound up being far tighter than anticipated, Sen. Gary Peters is returning to Congress.

The first-term Democrat is projected to win Tuesday's general election — though just barely. As of 8:30 p.m., Peters had 2,680,766 votes to James's 2,621,002, with 98% of precincts reporting.

Peters declared victory on Twitter.

"Michigan, thank you. It's an honor to serve you for another six years in the U.S. Senate," he wrote. "To all who believed in us, gave your time and effort in our fight: thank you for putting your trust in me. I'm so grateful and energized to keep working to move our state forward."

The race marks the second unsuccessful Senate run for Republican businessman John James, who was defeated by Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018.

Why was the race so close? It's possible that polls were way off this year — Democrats underperformed in other races across the country, including for the Senate and House. Indeed, only one poll found the Peters-James race to be a virtual tie.

Peters, 61, is also more of a low-key guy, so name recognition could have been a problem, too. There's also the fact that both Peters and James seemed to not want voters to know which one was the Republican and which one was the Democrat, apparently as a gambit to pick off moderate or undecided Michigan voters. But in a year where control of the Senate was in play — that was also a referendum on President Donald Trump — maybe it would have been a better move for Peters to wear his party affiliation on his sleeve.

Peters is currently the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Before the Senate, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and worked for 20 years as a financial adviser before that.

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