James still won’t concede to Peters, advisers raise election 18 years ago

    John James (left) and Gary Peters (right) | Andrew Roth

    As the Advance and major outlets have all reported, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) defeated Republican John James for U.S. Senate. However, James refuses to concede.

    Peters, a freshman first elected in 2014, had 2,721,207 votes, or 49.83% in unofficial Secretary of State returns. James, who also lost his 2018 election against U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing), had 2,636,895 votes, 48.29%. Peters’ margin is 84,312 votes or 1.54%.

    That’s not nearly as close as the 2016 Michigan presidential election, where now-President Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes.

    James’ advisers, like Stu Sandler, this week have spread voter fraud conspiracy theories, like in this tweet flagged by Twitter.

    Another line of attack coming from GOP attorney Charlie Spies is that Peters didn’t immediately concede in his 2002 election for attorney general against Republican Mike Cox. Sandler was a longtime adviser to both Cox and his wife, Laura Cox, the Michigan GOP chair who also has pushed voter fraud conspiracies.

    However, the 2002 Cox-Peters election was far closer than the 2020 Peters-James election — or the 2016 Trump-Clinton election in Michigan.

    Official 2002 results show Cox had 1,499,066 votes, or 48.86%. Peters had 1,493,866 votes, or 48.69%. That’s a difference between the candidates of 5,200 votes or .17%.

    The election was held on Nov. 5 and Peters conceded on Nov. 26, 2002, without asking for a recount. Here’s part of the Michigan Daily story:

    In one of the closest statewide races Michigan has seen in 50 years, 5,200 votes separated the candidates in the end.

    While waiting for counties to check their tallies throughout this month, Peters left the door open for a recount. But after reviewing the results last weekend, he decided to accept defeat, he said yesterday in a written statement.

    “Although I believe a recount would uncover additional anomalies and errors and further narrow the gap in this extremely tight race, I am not convinced a recount would alter the ultimate result,” he said. “Rather than subject the voters of Michigan to a protracted electoral and legal battle, I believe it is time to move forward.”

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-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.