Website changes suggest James is running in 2020

Michigan GOP U.S. Senate candidate John James campaigns at Senor Lopez Restaurant August 13, 2018 in Detroit. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — John James appears to be gearing up for another political run.

The Republican business executive and U.S. Army veteran, who lost his 2018 bid against U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing), has updated the donations section of his Senate campaign’s web page to reflect the higher contribution limits allowed in the 2019-2020 campaign cycle. The page was updated after March 29, according to an internet archive that tracks changes to websites.  

The changes suggest that James is readying himself for another run in the 2020 cycle, which has been widely rumored, although James has stayed quiet on the topic.

James’ campaign previously deleted hundreds of 2018 campaign videos, as the Advance previously reported, including those saying he supports President Donald Trump’s agenda “2,000 percent” and railing against the “monstrosity” of Obamacare.

After being snubbed by Trump, will James run for Senate again?

James could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Donald Trump | Wikimedia Commons

He lost to Stabenow last year by 6 points in a $40 million race that was closer than expected.

The Farmington Hills conservative, seen as a rising star in the Michigan Republican Party, has been courted by for both U.S. Senate and House races in the state, Politico reported last month. He’s met with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Team Trump’s preference reportedly was for James to run for the lower chamber, on the theory that “a statewide campaign by James could force Democrats to spend more money in the state, driving turnout on the other side and potentially hurting the president.”

U.S.. Rep. Haley Stevens | Andrew Roth

James has been discussed as a possible challenger to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) or U.S. Rep. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester). There even have been rumors about him challenging U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) on the west side of the state after the libertarian-leaning congressman called for Trump’s impeachment.

However, an NRSC memo, as reported by MLive, argues that “James will drive Republican turnout for Trump” in the three biggest Southeast Michigan counties: Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.

It is generally rare for down-ballot races to spur voter turnout.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters at the Detroit NAACP dinner | Andrew Roth

CNN reported earlier this year that James was the “the frontrunner” to be Trump’s United Nations ambassador, but James lost out on that post to GOP donor Kelly Craft, fueling speculation that he’d vie for Peters’ Senate seat.

Michigan is expected to have one of the top 10 most competitive 2020 U.S. Senate races, as Peters is a freshman and Trump won the state in 2016. Both the Michigan GOP and Democratic Party are gearing up for it to be a top-tier battle.

Other Republicans who have been mentioned to challenge Peters include former Attorney General Bill Schuette, who lost his 2018 gubernatorial bid, and state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering).

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the DC Bureau Chief for the Newsroom, a consortium of 10 nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.
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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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