Gary Peters of Michigan bucked the Koch Brothers trend in 2014

Gary Peters

This is kind of a cool anecdote in terms of 2014 postmortems: the general storyline was that Republicans won, Obama lost, Tom Steyer spent a lot of money and got very little return, and — two years after spending a lot of money and themselves getting little return — people like the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove spent big and looked good doing it. By some measures, Koch-based advertising had a 85 percent ROI in 2014. (Here’s a bit more on “dark money.”) But if you’re a Democrat, or you believe in Democrats, and you’re maybe a little worried about 2016 … there are two silver linings.

1. Midterms don’t really matter: Read this.

2. Gary Peters: He won an open seat Senate election in Michigan. He’s a Democrat. There were actually only two states this year in which people like the Koch brothers and Rove spent a lot of money and lost: New Hampshire and Michigan. You can kind of throw out the New Hampshire result, because it would have been hard for Scott Brown to win there — he was broadly viewed as an interloper. But this Peters win is interesting; conservative dark money groups pumped money into his opponent, Terri Lynn Land, and yet he still won — and won fairly handily, too. This wasn’t lost on the digital world:


Here’s a bit on how Peters raised his money — health care, lawyers, and the university system seemed to help — and here’s a post on his campaign website about the Koch brothers arriving in Michigan with their “anti-middle-class agenda.”

If you’re wondering what “pet coke” means in the above context, read this or watch this:

Peters is only 55 years old, so theoretically he could do something “up the ladder” in politics — there’s some gravitas to being the only Senate candidate in a given cycle to knock down a couple of billionaires — but it’s probably more likely he’ll go the Carl Levin route and spend 30 years in the Senate. (Or, you know, get kicked out in 2020 when Hilary is up for Term II.)

Additionally cool sidebar: Peters spent none of his own money — entirely outside contributions — whereas Land (his opponent) used $3.55 million of her family’s money, in addition to the Koch money, and still didn’t muster a W.

And we all know Michigan/Detroit is the once and future king of American prosperity, right?

Ted Bauer

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