Missing in Action

Peters skips votes to campaign

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / AP

Michigan Democrat Gary Peters’ quest for the Senate has come at the expense of his duties in the House of Representatives.

The three-term congressman has skipped 31 votes since April, making him one of Congress’ biggest no-shows according to GovTrack.us, a congressional watchdog group. Peters’ habit of skipping votes has placed him at the bottom 15th percentile among all representatives.

The Peters campaign did not return request for comment.

Peters has missed several important votes during that time, including bills that are at the center of his campaign. Peters, an ardent environmentalist, has missed multiple votes on bills that would have boosted domestic clean energy production.

Peters missed the June 23 vote on the Collinsville Renewable Energy Production Act, which would have boosted hydroelectric power in the U.S. He also failed to cast a ballot in the debate over the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act, a green energy bill that would have boosted funding for clean fuel and limited American reliance on Chinese resources, according to bill sponsor Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.).

"Energy critical elements are vital to many of the green sustainable technologies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the innovations that keep our troops safe," Swalwell said in a release.

The bill was introduced in March 2013, but did not come to a vote until July 22, 2014. Despite Peters’ dedication to green energy and opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and other domestic fossil fuel production, he was not at the Capitol that day. The bill fell just a few votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to suspend house rules and pass.

Those two bills are just the sort of legislation Peters pledged to support in Congress.

"To stay at the forefront of this new clean energy economy, we must continue our leadership in innovation. In Congress, I'm working to pass legislation that will make meaningful investments to spur clean energy technology development," Peters wrote on his congressional website.

Peters missed more than just the green energy bill. The House also passed a bill designed to hamper terrorist group Hezbollah as war gripped Israel on July 22. Peters, who has publicly supported Israel, skipped the vote, which supporters say will slow funding for the Lebanese militants that have waged war in Israel and Syria.

Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land’s campaign said Peters is placing the needs of his campaign above his duty to represent his constituents.

"Gary Peters is campaigning on taxpayer time, and it is clear he is putting his political career first rather than Michigan—but this is nothing new," Land spokesman Heather Swift said. "Rather than actually do the job he was tasked with fulfilling, Gary Peters would rather engage in dirty campaign tactics and court out of state billionaires like the radical hedge fund manager Tom Steyer."

Candidates generally dedicate more time in their home states during election years, and this is especially true of those running statewide for the first time or running in competitive races.

However, Peters’ absence stands out among his congressional colleagues that are seeking Senate seats. No Senate candidate has missed more votes than Peters since April. The 32 votes Peters missed in 2014 are higher than the combined totals of Republican Senate candidates Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) and Democrat Bruce Braley (D., Iowa).

Peters and Land are running to replace retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin in a race that could help determine the Senate majority in 2014. Levin won the 2008 race by more than 30 points in the heavily Democratic state. Peters leads Land by about five points, according to a Real Clear Politics poll average.