James announces U.S. Senate bid on ‘Fox & Friends’

John James (left) and Gary Peters (right) | Photos by Ken Coleman and Andrew Roth
Updated, 10:29 a.m., with comments from Peters.

Republican former senatorial candidate John James announced Thursday morning that he will make another run for the U.S. Senate in 2020, this time against incumbent freshman Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

As the Advance first reported on Wednesday, James’ campaign website changed to reflect the updated donation limits for the 2019-20 election cycle, all but signaling another run. That night, he sent out an email telling supporters he would run “because America is at a crossroads, and this fight is too important to sit out.”

Website changes suggest James is running in 2020

James, who unsuccessfully ran against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) in 2018, said he made his decision to run “after careful deliberation and thoughtful prayer.” The businessman and Army veteran appeared on “Fox & Friends,” which is known as President Donald Trump’s favorite show.

“Nothing has changed,” James said. “I have experience as a business leader, as a job creator, [on] how to protect our economy from socialism… I also as a combat veteran understand the service and sacrifice our veterans make every single day and I’m willing to stand up for this country, not any party, not any ideology, but putting country first, putting Michigan first and looking forward to continuing my service.”

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

Peters, who also is a veteran, was first elected in 2014, defeating former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to become the only Democratic freshman during the Republican wave year in which the party took control of the U.S. Senate. Prior to that, Peters had served in the U.S. House since 2009, having survived being cut out of his seat after the 2011 redistricting.

He raised almost $2 million in the first quarter for his re-election.

“I’m focused on continuing to deliver results for Michigan,” Peters said in a statement. “I’ll keep working with anyone to improve life for Michiganders, whether it’s to expand training programs so everyone has the skills needed to find good-paying jobs, protect our Great Lakes or lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.”*

James was a highly sought-after recruit in both 2020 and the last election cycle. Trump endorsed James ahead of the 2018 GOP primary. House and Senate Republican officials both vied to recruit him for their respective campaigns this cycle.

Earlier this year, it was rumored that the Trump administration sought to appoint James as its United Nations ambassador. Later reports indicated Trump aides attempted to persuade James not to run for Senate, as they suspected it would increase Democratic spending in Michigan, which would hurt the president’s chances to capture its electoral votes again.

Donald Trump | Wikimedia Commons

The email also said James will “continue to run [his] family business and raise [his] family” in the coming months, not holding an “official kickoff” until the early months of 2020.

He told the “Fox & Friends” hosts that his campaign will donate a portion of its fundraising to charity, as well, saying “we’re going to take a portion, just five cents, just a portion of everything we raise, and we’re going to give it back to people in need … because the career politicians, and the federal bureaucracy, and Washington’s not getting it done.”

James, who had never sought elected office before his 2018 Senate campaign, lost that election by nearly 7 points to Stabenow for her fourth term in the U.S. Senate. Stabenow will be up for re-election in 2024.

Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson is a former associate editor of the Advance and is now a freelance writer in Chicago. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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