ROCHESTER, Michigan — Michigan's newly elected Democratic senator, Gary Peters, pledged Wednesday to work with majority Republicans when he joins the Senate, saying he wants to follow the lead of his predecessor who is retiring after 36 years of service.
Peters, a third-term House member representing parts of Detroit and the suburbs, defeated Republican Terri Lynn Land by 13 percentage points to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Carl Levin.
"What I learned from Carl Levin is that if you bring integrity and thoughtfulness to the job and you're willing to reach across the aisle and build relationships with other members there, you can have an influence," Peters told reporters at a Rochester deli where he launched his campaign 18 months ago.
He said despite the GOP picking up enough seats to take control of the chamber from Democrats, the smaller Senate provides a better opportunity for bipartisanship than the Republican-controlled House.
Peters, who was an investment adviser before serving in the Legislature, is starting to think about potential committee assignments and said a natural fit is Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs.
He sits on the House Financial Services Committee, and plans to focus in part on an initiative to spur loans for small businesses.
Peters cited positive working relationships with two fellow House members also being elevated to the upper chamber: Republicans Cory Gardner of Colorado and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
His victory was a rare bright spot for Michigan Democrats in a midterm election in which the GOP held onto the governorship, attorney general, secretary of state, Legislature and state Supreme Court. He noted many ticket-splitters who backed him and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
"Part of my practical, commonsense, independent approach is one which independent, swing voters appreciate and that's why we were able to win a large share of those votes," he said.
Peters said he was confident he would have won regardless of who opposed him. Land was a two-term secretary of state.
The Center for Public Integrity estimates candidates, parties and groups spent at least $33 million on TV ads in the Senate race, not including money spent to air ads on local cable.
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