MI-09: Life on the Campaign Trail

The 2008 Federal Election may be 280 days away, but life on the trail in a targeted congressional district has already heated up. We in the blogosphere do so much to impact the process, from contributions to candidates and volunteering our time (sometimes across the nation thanks to technology such as virtual phone banks) to simply giving attention to well deserving candidates who aren’t receiving any from the mainstream media. But what is it like inside of these campaigns that we track, influence, and cheer for?

I work for Gary Peters for Congress in Michigan’s 9th Congressional district. I’m focused on the campaign. I could tell you in my sleep that the district is currently represented by Republican Joe Knollenberg, however it has a Partisan Voter Index of R+0, making it one of our best pickup opportunities. I can rattle off the cities equally as effortlessly, and even give you a tour to some of the districts many landmarks including The Palace in Auburn Hills (home of the NBA’s Pistons and WNBA’s Shock), the Somerset Mall in Troy, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, or the Fallen Heroes Memorial in Pontiac.

You’ll see me blogging about the race more and more as the election heats up, but currently a lot of staff energy is spent on fundraising and organization building. One day we might be preparing for a major fundraiser to collect the resources we’ll need to beat an incumbent, the next we may be at a house party snacking on chips and pop while Gary meets with voters, local activists and (hopefully!) future volunteers.

A great way to stay in touch with our supporters is through email. Email is one of the least expensive ways to communicate with our supporters, and we’d love for you to hear what we have to say this year. Recent emails have asked our supporters to vote for Gary Peters in DFA’s Grassroots All Star Contest (where Gary is in the Top 5 and closing in on becoming a finalist), spread the word about upcoming house parties and highlighted contrasts between Gary and our opponent on issues from ranging global warming to the economy to the war.

Also important are phone calls and letters inviting friends of the campaign to participate. I’ve stuffed envelopes with invitations, and then followed them up with phone calls so we can be sure to involve as many as possible. Gary loves connecting with voters, and it is our job to make sure that he can meet lots of them at our events.

The days are long- working constantly- but the hours seem to fly by. I’m usually awakened by my blackberry buzzing to let me know it’s time to check the daily political briefings that come out via email- NBC’s First Read, CNN’s Political Ticker, Politico’s Playbook and Daily Digest, check Hotline’s Wake Up Call, and Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire. Some are better than others ;). Throughout the day, breaking news about the Presidential race might be interesting, but unless it affects my district I work through it. After everything I can possibly get down that day is completed, I take some quick notes on what I’ve gotten done and what still needs to be done for the week. I take a quick jog to clear my head, before coming back to my notes when I realized I’ve forgotten something or I’ve been hit with an idea. On Friday night I send a full report for the week to our campaign manager.

I’m proud of my work and I love putting the time in. I feel a lot of responsibility to our campaign supporters, the Party, to Gary and his family, my coworkers, but especially to all of you who are following the race and want to see Gary win.

While this isn’t necessarily “Part 1” of a series, you can expect many more updates like this throughout the campaign. Very soon we will be moving out of Gary’s basement and into a campaign office, and soon thereafter ramping up our field operation. But we’ll also be communicating our same message to the netroots community through blogging here and at our campaign blog, videos on YouTube, and at social networks like Facebook (Are you a supporter of Gary Peters yet?)

If you decide to make a contribution at ActBlue, you’ll know what it is going to. I’ll bring you pictures of the team distributing lawn signs or the snacks for volunteers and bring you updates from the rest of the staff.

We’ve all got big tasks ahead of us in 2008! Let’s get to work.

I’m In Michigan and I Voted

No, not in either party’s primary…I voted for Democracy for America’s 2008 Grassroots All Star!

I voted for Gary Peters. Gary is a true progressive. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here is Gary in his own words:

“In Congress, I will fight to make China and Korea play by international rules and we must demand that the world trade organization (WTO) address non-tariff barriers that prevent the importation of U.S. made products into their markets…Michigan manufacturers and our workers can successfully compete against any competitor in the world but the rules of the game must be fair. We must have a change in Washington and put an end to the disastrous Bush/Knollenberg trade policies that have exported thousands of our jobs overseas.”

“I find it unconscionable that nearly 47 million Americans live each day without healthcare…Unfortunately, drug and health insurance companies have not offered constructive long-term solutions and are in fact currently spending millions of dollars every year on lobbyists dedicated to protecting the status quo and blocking meaningful health care reform. In Congress, I will fight for universal health care for all Americans.”

“President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the members of Congress who continue to blindly support this flawed policy have all failed us…As a former military officer, I believe the best way to support our troops is to bring them home and we need to start bringing them home now.”


Gary has been fighting for the people in this community his entire life.  From his dedication to our country as a soldier to his dedication to the issues of education and health care in the Senate, he knows our community and has always been here working for us- not the special interests.

I want Gary to win and bring a DFA training to Michigan’s 9th district. I want Gary to win and bring real change to the 9th District and to Washington. If you feel the same way, pass word along to your friends and families!


MI-09: SEIU Endorses Gary Peters for Congress

Today the SEIU Michigan Council has endorsed Gary Peters, in his congressional campaign for Michigan’s 9th district.

“Our members firmly believe that Gary Peters is the best candidate to represent the citizens of Michigan’s 9th District,” said Phil Thompson, SEIU Michigan State Council president and executive vice president of SEIU Local 517M. “He has a proven record of standing by working families, particularly when it comes to providing access to quality and affordable health care.”

Gary has also received the earliest Congressional endorsement from the AFL-CIO, been endorsed by the Michigan Building Trades, American Federation of Teachers, and the local Operating Engineers, Communication Workers, and Pipefitters.

Peters was proud to accept the endorsement, saying “I’m extremely pleased and honored to get the support of the SEIU Michigan State Council. The SEIU believes, as I believe, that working families deserve a voice in Washington and that it is time for a change.”

Michigan’s 9th District is currently represented by Joe Knollenberg. Last year Knollenberg received a dismal 0% rating on labor issues in the AFSCME  House Scorecard.  

Getting the endorsement was a very thorough and unique process. Gary Peters and other candidates in Michigan’s 9th filled out a questionnaire, met with SEIU members who filled out assessment forms, and took part in a “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event where the candidates worked side by side with an SEIU member.

Marge Faville, the secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan State Council treasurer, said Peters understands the struggles that SEIU members face.

“Gary Peters understands our values and our concerns,” Faville said. “He spent a day side-by-side with a home care worker as part of our endorsement process, and we were very impressed with Gary’s passion and his grasp of the issues SEIU workers face.”

Faville went on to highlight two of Gary Peters key beliefs that impressed SEIU members:

Ending the war in Iraq, and supporting children’s health care.

“Gary Peters wants to end the war, bring our troops home and make sure their children get the health care they need through an expansion of the S-CHIP program. Those two issues are extremely important to SEIU members, as they are to Michiganders as a whole. Our members are excited to support a candidate who shares their vision for a better Michigan and a stronger America.” SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Marge Faville

Want to get involved?

MI-09: Peters for Congress Campaign Update

Greetings from Peters for Congress! We have been up to a whole lot, which I am excited to share with all of you.

Recently we surpassed $50,000 in donations via ActBlue! The contribution that put us over the top was only $50, and was made on November 8th. We are excited to see the support from the online community. ActBlue is a viral network?if you would like to support Gary’s campaign, you can create your own personal fundraising page and direct your blog readers, friends, and family to contribute. We can track how much your own fundraising page is responsible for raising.

Even more exciting is the money being raised and friends being made within the district. We were graciously welcomed to the homes of two Peters Supporters for house parties this past weekend. At our campaign events page you can check to see if Gary will be coming to a location near you soon! If you’d like to host one, get in touch with the campaign- if you’ll have us, Gary would love to meet you and your friends and talk about the race. I would especially like to thank our pals in Royal Oak’s 25th precinct for the cupcakes!

Did you hear that the entire Michigan Democratic Delegation has united to throw a fund raiser for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer? You would’ve if you were on our email list- be sure to Stay Informed by signing up at PetersForCongress.com

No, the campaign isn’t all just about money: last Wednesday Gary got a chance to speak to the Troy Democratic Club. He got to address the critical issues we are facing. He continued to call for withdrawing from Iraq immediately and safely. He called the lack of access to affordable healthcare unconscionable?a stark contrast from Joe Knollenberg, who has voted against insuring 10 million more children by expanding SCHIP. Gary spoke about protecting our environment the way only a former Sierra Club Environmentalist of the Year could, and he has the experience to hit the ground running on these issues. He talked about preserving the American dream and making sure that no generation will be worse off than their parents.

MI-09: Michigan Dem Delegation to Support Peters for Congress

Peters for Congress is proud to announce that the entire Michigan Democratic delegation will be supporting a December fundraiser for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer. The event comes weeks before the next crucial campaign finance reporting deadline.

The unity of the entire delegation, lead by Senators Levin and Stabenow, sends a strong message. DCCC polling shows that Knollenberg’s job approval is at 33%. When voters are given Gary and Joe’s positions on SCHIP, Gary pulls ahead to a 7 point lead. Clearly MI-09 is a serious opportunity to expand our majority in the House.

I am thrilled to see the men and women of our Democratic Delegation stepping up to support two proven progressives.

Also, be sure to join our email list!

MI-09: Congress is NOT Just for Millionaires

You may have seen some of the  YouTube drama surrounding MI-09 and candidate Gary Peters. Peters is currently serving as the Griffin Endowed Chair of American Government at Central Michigan University. As a former State Senator, State Lottery Commissioner, and Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve he brings a unique perspective to the university.

In fact, the story was on the frontpage of AOL.com today.

Another unique perspective found at CMU belongs to young conservative Dennis Lennox. Lennox has been complaining that Peters should not be able to run for Congress at teach at CMU at the same time.

The root of his complaint poses a very significant question: should you be able to hold a job and run for office? We don’t mind that incumbents, who earn a salary from the taxpayers, campaign for their re-election. Should a candidate have to be independently wealthy to run for office?

First I should point out that Peters’ salary comes from a privately funded endowment. In fact, Robert Griffin (a former Republican Senator and MI Supreme Court Justice) who funds the endowment is supportive of Peters. The first two Griffin Chairs were prominent Republicans.

If we limit ourselves to just those who can afford to take time off work to run, given the ever quickening pace of the campaign trail, we certainly are cutting off our options. How will we get the candidates ready to stand up for us, not special interests, if they have to give up their paycheck to run?

We certainly wouldn’t have candidates ready to stand up and fight to end the war. We know the mega wealthy don’t care about protecting our jobs, since they are the ones that promote outsourcing. We’d be lucky to get candidates that want to provide access to quality, affordable health care.

In Michigan last year we saw Amway CEO Dick Devos spend over $41 million in his run for Governor. But over $35 million was his own money! The pundits are saying MI-09 in 2008 could be the most expensive Congressional race in Michigan’s history. Do we want to limit our choices of our representative to the People’s House to only millionaires?

I don’t. Who hasn’t worked a part time job in order to pay the bills while in school or volunteering your service? Gary Peters is running for Congress to provide representation to those in MI-09 who feel no one has stood up for them.

I can see why conservatives would try and use any means necessary to stop Gary. He is Knollenberg’s first opponent that has ever held office before. He has a long list of endorsements, including the AFL-CIO, MI Building Trades, Triangle Pride PAC, and nearly every MI-09 elected official. He has already raised over $215k.

I’ve created an ActBlue fundraising page called “The People’s House” for those of you who believe that candidates should be allowed to work part time while running for office. Whether they are Professors, Teachers, Doctors, or Farmers…we need to support candidate’s that represent US!

Support Gary Peters at ActBlue! Donate to the People’s House page to let everyone know that Congress is not just for millionaires.

MI-09: Peters Launches Red Wagon Campaign to Urge Knollenberg to Change Vote

Joe Knollenberg is the 2nd most vulnerable Republican to vote against SCHIP. Gary Peters has launched to following campaign, urging our supporters to take action in support of Children’s Health Care.

Are you upset that Congressman Joe Knollenberg sided with President Bush by voting to eliminate children’s health care coverage? Let’s show Joe Knollenberg that our children deserve affordable health care too.

At the Peters for Congress website, we’ve made a Wagon Coloring Page that you and your kids can print out, color in, and mail to Joe Knollenberg.

A little red wagon is symbolic of American Childhood. Let’s make sure our children have the childhood they deserve, by protecting health care for the children of working families.

Why are we doing this now?

Joe Knollenberg has a chance to vote again in support of this necessary program, supported by a vast majority of Governor’s and even other Michigan Republicans like Fred Upton and Candice Miller. The bill, which passed the House 265-159, was vetoed by the President. However the House has scheduled an override vote, in an attempt to override the President’s veto. The vote is expected to come this Thursday.

Let’s urge Joe Knollenberg to support children’s health care, not the President’s veto!

Please go print out a wagon, color it, and mail it to Joe Knollenberg before Thursday.

MI-09: Knollenberg First House Target on LCV Dirty Dozen List

On Tuesday, the League of Conservation Voters named the first two members of the “Dirty Dozen” list of the 12 worst members of Congress on environmental issues.

The first additions to the 2008 Dirty Dozen are Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI09).

We all know where Inhofe stands on the environment. If you can justify ignoring the threat of global warming by claiming it is a scam to raise the Weather Channel’s ratings, then you can justify voting against any environmental protections. However, I was very glad to see the LCV recognize that Joe Knollenberg is in the same class as Inhofe.

You may not have heard of Joe Knollenberg. He is the Republican Ranking Member of an Appropriations Sub Committee, and brags about all the money he has “secured” for local interests, taking advantage of earmarks, on his website. But his record on issues important to 9th district voters is atrocious. The LCV gives him a lifetime score of just 7%.

In fact, an amendment that bans the EPA from hosting educational seminars about global warming is known as the “Knollenberg Amendment”.

MI-09 is arguably the most progressive district in Michigan. Polling on social issues shows that 9th District voters stand with us on a woman’s right to choose, stem cell research, protecting our environment for future generations, and moving in a new direction. It is about time for us to get a new Representative in Congress!

The LCV adding Knollenberg to the Dirty Dozen list was the earliest any member of Congress has been targeted by the group. This isn’t the first early buzz we’ve seen in MI-09 however. The AFL-CIO announced their earliest ever endorsement for Democratic candidate Gary Peters.

For more early buzz, yesterday Peters for Congress announced raising $217k from over 430 individuals in just 6 weeks of campaigning. Over $41k came from ActBlue, where the average donation was under $250.

Everything about this district seems to be moving quickly…before Gary even announced he would run for Congress, Knollenberg was already attacking him.

MI-09 will be one of the hottest races in 2008.

Get Involved Today!

MI-09: Gary Peters Q3 Fundraising Totals

The moment you’ve all been waiting for, and 4 days before they are due to the FEC, Peters for Congress is proud to announce our 2007 Q3 Fund raising total!

The Peters Campaign is off to an aggressive start, raising over $217,000 in the first six weeks!

That sum was raised from over 430 individual contributors, a sign of the overwhelming demand for change in Michigan’s 9th district.

Gary himself is very excited about the results, and is ready to get to work.

“These numbers show that our campaign will be extremely aggressive and highly competitive,” Peters said. “We want to give Oakland County residents the change they want and the representation they deserve in Congress, and based on the amount of support we’ve garnered in such a short period of time, I’m confident we will have the resources to do just that.”

Many of the contributions came from ActBlue, where  Gary raised $41,564.26 in the 3rd quarter. The average ActBlue donation was under $250.

The campaign has also received many early endorsements, including the AFL-CIO, The Michigan Building Trades Council,  Triangle Pride PAC, and nearly every 9th district elected official.

The vigorous fund-raising and numerous endorsements are just the beginning. This will be a long, aggressive campaign that ultimately will bring about positive change for Oakland County. Are you ready to get to work?

(Full press release at: Peters for Congress)

MI-09: Peters Calls On Knollenberg to Override SCHIP Veto

Yesterday, George Bush vetoed a bipartisan bill that would provide health insurance to over 10 million low income children. On September 25th, Joe Knollenberg voted against this legislation that would give children the health care they need.

Today, Gary Peters called on Joe Knollenberg to stand up to President Bush, and vote to override the veto in order to protect Michigan’s children.

“This is about protecting the health care of Michigan’s children. Even though Joe Knollenberg has previously voted the wrong way, he needs to understand the critical importance of this issue to his constituents and vote to override President Bush’s veto.”
-Gary Peters

Joe Knollenberg is the 2nd most vulnerable Republican to vote against SCHIP. MI-09 has a PVI of R+0, and Gary Peters has consistently performed above the Democratic base vote in 9th district precincts.

This is not a partisan issue. It is about providing necessary health care for children, and protecting our societies most vulnerable. SCHIP is supported by a vast majority of Governors and a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress. Republicans in Michigan voting for the bipartisan legislation include Representative Fred Upton (R-MI 6th), Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI 3rd), and Representative Candice Miller (R-MI 10th).

As Gary Peters calls on Knollenberg to change his vote, Democrats nationwide are raising awareness about SCHIP. The DCCC has begun radio ads and robo calls within many battleground districts, including Michigan’s 9th.

The calls feature Lisa Matzenbach, a mother of a chronically ill child on SCHIP who lives in the 9th district. The text of the call is available at the Stakeholder.

The DCCC isn’t the only group going on the offensive. According to Swing State Project, Knollenberg is the 2nd most vulnerable Republican to vote against SCHIP. The Hill also notes that Democrats are going on the offensive in protecting children’s health care coverage. Michigan Liberal, MyDD, Talking Points Memo, and Swamp Politics also all criticize Knollenberg’s decision to vote against the interest of Michigan’s children.