Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters beat out Republican challenger John James by only 1.6 percentage points in one of the most hotly contested statewide races in recent memory.
Peters won by a squeaker, 49.9 percent to 48.3 percent, in his bid for a second six-year term, but legal challenges or a recount are possible due to the closeness of the vote.
Peters and James were neck-and-neck much of Wednesday, with Peters edging ahead of James as full results from Wayne County, home to Detroit, trickled in late in the day.
“I am sincerely honored that the voters of Michigan have once again put their trust and confidence in me to represent them in the United States Senate,” Peters said in a press release Wednesday evening. “As we look ahead, I am energized to keep working to move our state forward and continue putting Michigan first.”
The race is thought to be one of the closest U.S. Senate races in state history, with Peters winning by 1.6 percentage points and James foiled for a second time in a bid that would have made him Michigan’s first African-American U.S. senator.
It was also one of the tightest Senate races nationwide in a cycle in which the Democratic Party fought to take control of the upper chamber and Republicans largely played defense.
While Peters was favored, his Democratic seat was one of just two nationwide — the other being Alabama Sen. Doug Jones’ seat — that was seen as particularly vulnerable to Republican takeover. Peters went into Election Day with a 5-point lead in most recent polls, which is similar to the lead he’s maintained for months.
It is the most expensive Senate race in state history, with the candidates collectively spending more than $70 million as of Oct. 15. Outside spending nearly matched that, with more than $50 million spent by the beginning of October.
Peters, who has worked in government at the state and federal level for 25 years, pitched voters on his track record of bipartisan work and legislative accomplishments even in a GOP-dominated chamber and with a Republican White House.
The Bloomfield Hills Democrat told Bridge Michigan in earlier interviews that if he’s sent back to Washington, his first order of business will be to help get the coronavirus pandemic under control.
He wants to pass another COVID relief package that would provide more money to small businesses and businesses in low-income communities and communities of color to weather the economic downturn and reduce the country’s dependence on China for medical equipment and prescription drugs.
He is finishing his first term in the U.S. Senate after spending six years in the U.S. House representing portions of southeast Michigan. Before that, he worked as the state Lottery Commissioner under Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and as a state senator.