Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James scores big endorsement as polls tighten

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The Detroit News has come out in support of GOP senatorial candidate John James over Democratic incumbent Sen. Gary Peters.

“It is an honor to have the endorsement of one of Michigan’s most prestigious and well-read publications,” said James, who would join Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) as the second black Republican in the Senate.

“Our state and nation are currently at a crossroads, and Michigan has the choice between a combat veteran or a career politician, a war fighter or a gaslighter. It’s time for Michigan to have effective leadership in the Senate where no voice will be left out,” he added.

In its endorsement, the Detroit News credited James’ experience as a successful businessman along with his commitment to improving the economy and healthcare access.

“Michigan would gain increased influence and better representation for its people in the U.S. Senate by electing John James,” the editorial board said in a statement. “It would also send to the Senate a natural leader who could well become one of the chamber’s most powerful members.”

It added that James is a “businessman who understands the impact COVID-19 has had on the nation’s industrial base, and what it will take to recover.”

“To stimulate the economy, he advocates continued tax and regulatory reform, as well as policies that encourage more vigorous trade,” the board said.

“He helped lead his family’s successful auto supply business. As an Army Ranger pilot, he led soldiers in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” The Detroit News noted further. “And he promises to become a leader of the Senate while bringing to the body the unique perspective of a Black Republican.”

The paper noted further that James had assured editors he would reform healthcare in a way that protected Americans with preexisting conditions. He also pledged, the paper said, to push for free-market reforms that would “drive down the cost of health care,” while also preserving individual health insurance plans.

Nearly half of all Americans — roughly 156 million — get their health insurance through employer-provided plans. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have either endorsed full-on government health care via Medicare-for-all or a watered-down version whereby Americans would have a government option.

During Thursday’s debate, however, Biden said he wanted to expand on ‘Obamacare,’ the signature piece of legislation passed during President Obama’s first term that never delivered on his or Biden’s promises.

“We believe John James has the potential to become an influential senator who, while putting Michigan first, will also speak for a group of Americans who are greatly underrepresented in the Senate,” the paper’s board said.

The endorsement of James is a reversal from 2014, when the editorial board endorsed Peters as “the best candidate for the job,” though it was a “philosophical outlier for The News.”

Now, the board argues that Peters has turned out to be a “predictable vote for the Democratic leadership, offering little to set himself apart.” The paper added that “he has backed the Democratic Senate leadership on nearly every key vote in his first term, including opposing three well-qualified Supreme Court nominees.”

“He cannot be counted on to check his party’s worst ambitions,” the board wrote, adding that it doesn’t make endorsements based on party but rather on who it believes would “best serve their community.”

According to his campaign website, James enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17 and became a Ranger. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2004, James trained to fly Apache helicopters, logging nearly 754 flight hours in Iraq leading two Apache platoons and earning a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals.

Most polls currently have James trailing, but gaining steam on Peters, and the Trafalgar Group shows James leading.

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Jon Dougherty

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