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The 2020 election may still be a year away, but big spending in Michigan's U.S. Senate race has begun.

A super political action committee tied to a major Republican donor disclosed Friday spending nearly $1 million on ads against incumbent U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat who is up for re-election in 2020.

The group called Restoration PAC reported spending $879,294 on television advertising and $100,000 on digital advertising about Peters, according to a disclosure. The group's ads were slated to begin running in the Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids markets on Friday, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

Super PACs are groups that are supposed to work independently of candidates and can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors and corporations.

The attacks against Peters won't work, said Peters for Michigan Campaign Manager Dan Farough in a press release, .

“We always knew the out-of-state special interests who think they can buy a Senate seat would come in to attack a leader like Gary but Michiganders know the facts,” Farough said. “Gary is ranked as one of the most effective and bipartisan Democrats in the U.S. Senate because he works with anyone to deliver results for Michigan.

Restoration PAC raised a little over a $1 million over the first six months of the year, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Almost all of it came from Richard Uihlein, an Illinois businessman who co-founded Uline, a shipping supplies company.

A 2018 story in Politico labeled Uihlein "the biggest Republican megadonor you’ve never heard of."

An ad posted on the PAC's website criticizes Peters' stance on the Green New Deal, a resolution that calls for the United States to drastically reduce its reliance on fossil fuels with a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"Gary Peters says, 'There are many aspects of the Green New Deal I support,'" the Restoration PAC ad says. "Is it the new 1.4 million fewer jobs you support or the part where we abolish gasoline cars or airplanes or red meat?"

The ad concludes, “Hey Gary, tell us more about what you like about the Green New Deal.”

The Peters campaign called the ads misleading, noting that Peters voted "present," not yes or no, when the resolution went before the U.S. Senate in March 2019.

"What we should be doing is having a thoughtful debate on the need to address a significant threat to our country," Peters said on the Senate floor, calling the vote a "political stunt."

In April, Peters said he supports parts of the Green New Deal but declined to back the plan.

In 2020, Peters is running for a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate and faces a challenge from Republican businessman John James of Farmington Hills. James lost to incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, in 2018 by 6.5 percentage points. The biggest outside spender in that race was the Michigan Republican Party at $1.5 million.

Peters had a cash advantage at the end of the July-September quarter with $6.3 million in cash, compared with $3.8 million for James. But the Iraq War veteran raised $3 million to Peters' $2.5 million in the third quarter.

As Republicans look to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, Peters will be one of two Democratic U.S. senators running for re-election in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3662

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