by Ted Goodman
Iraq War veteran and Detroit businessman John E. James launched an exploratory committee Tuesday in preparation for a 2018 U.S. Senate bid in the Michigan Republican primary.
While much of the media’s attention surrounding Michigan’s 2018 Senate race has been dominated by American rock musician Robert Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, James filed the necessary paperwork to run with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday.
James, 36, served eight years in the military as a Ranger qualified aviation officer, and is now president of James Group International, a Michigan-based supply chain and logistics company. He says that his military background, combined with his business experience makes him uniquely qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate.
“Having combat veterans in Congress is essential to understanding the consequences of failed foreign policies,” James told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I also understand, as a global company, how unfair trade deals affect Michigan jobs.”
The Michigan GOP is looking for a strong candidate to take on Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. A popular three-term senator, Stabenow was first elected in 2000 and has successfully beat back Republican attempts to take the seat. Recent Senate elections in Michigan have favored Democrats, even as Republicans dominated state politics and congressional seats.
Along with his West Point education, James earned a Master’s of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
“Another top tier candidate,” Scott Hagerstrom, who served as Trump’s Michigan campaign director and is now deputy chair of the Michigan Republican party told TheDCNF. “This is further acknowledgement of Debbie Stabenow’s 20 years of failure in Washington, D.C. to Michigan workers, families and retirees — Hundreds of thousands of jobs and faltering incomes.”
In 2012, Stabenow defeated former Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra by nearly one million votes (58 percent to 39 percent). In 2014, Democrat Gary Peters defeated Republican candidate Terry Lynn Land by 13 points to capture Michigan’s other Senate seat.
Stabenow enjoys huge support from donors in the Metro-Detroit area. After two disappointing losses, it will take a compelling candidate to convince Republican donors to come back on board in 2018. Michigan Republican party officials point to President Donald Trump’s ability to turn Michigan red at the presidential level for the first time since 1988 as evidence that a Republican can defeat Stabenow in 2018.
“I led the best and brightest in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 until 2009,” James said, referring to the height of the great recession. “After my time in the military, I realized there’s a lot to do to fight for Michiganders.”
A deeply religious man, James said that his faith and his family guides every decision he makes, including his decision to explore a Senate run. “We must bring glory to God and we must love our neighbor.”
James is likely to face a crowded Republican primary for the chance to take on Stabenow, including a potential challenge from Kid Rock. When asked about Kid Rock, James had nothing but positive things to say.
“Mr. Ritchie [Kid Rock] is a great American and people should not make the mistake of ignoring him,” James told TheDCNF. “Mr. Ritchie cares about this state and he wants to do something about it.”
“He helps remind us what we are fighting for and I take Mr. Ritchie very seriously,” James said. “While he was singing about freedom, I was defending it,” he concluded.
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