Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano accepts an endorsement on Tuesday. He's in a tight race with multiple candidates. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Detroit— U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ Senate campaign will get a national boost this week when 3,000 liberal and Democratic activists descend on Detroit for an annual forum designed to fire up the troops for the fall election.
Activists from across the country begin arriving today for the four-day Netroots Nation conference at Cobo Center, which formally starts Thursday with a keynote speech by Vice President Joe Biden.
Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Wall Street-battling icon of progressives, will share the stage Friday morning with Peters and will raise funds for him in Detroit.
Warren is traveling the country trying to help Democrats win Senate seats. Peters is in a heated race against Republican Terri Lynn Land for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit.
“She’s on board to make sure the Senate stays in Democratic control and is really using her cachet and appeal to get people to open up their checkbooks,” said Raven Brooks, executive director of Netroots Nation.
The conference is a rallying cry for progressive activists and bloggers, and as a training group for electoral messaging and turning out the vote on Nov. 4.
“The reason that you’re seeing two of the rock stars in the Democratic Party (Biden and Warren) … is because everyone realizes this is an incredibly important election, the future of the Senate hangs in balance,” Brooks said.
During his campaign for the Senate, Peters has sought to highlight his independence, noting times when he doesn’t vote with his party.
Last week, Peters emphasized a tax law vote he cast as an “independent” move that ran counter to the votes of most Democratic House members.
Republicans scoff that Peters will be independent of the Democratic leadership in Washington after voting for Obama’s health care law and against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“He’s a liberal ally to Elizabeth Warren, he aligns with (Senate leader) Harry Reid,” said Bobby Schostak, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. “He can’t run from his votes; they speak for themselves.”
Netroots conference organizers chose Detroit not just because it’s a solidly Democratic city, but also because of the economic and social challenges revolving around the Motor City’s bankruptcy, Brooks said.
Panel discussions are planned to focus on Detroit’s controversial residential water shut-offs, its state-appointed emergency manager and plans to reduce public pensions in bankruptcy.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer also are scheduled to speak during the conference.