John E. James

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John E. James
John James 1.png
James in 2018
Personal details
John Edward James

(1981-06-08) June 8, 1981 (age 40)
Southfield, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth James
WebsiteCampaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service2004–2012
RankUS Army O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain[2]
Battles/warsIraq War

John Edward James (born June 8, 1981) is an American businessman, veteran, and former U.S. Senate candidate. After graduating from the United States Military Academy (West Point), he served for eight years in the Army, participating in multiple tours of duty in the Iraq War. After being honorably discharged, James joined his family's supply chain business.

James ran as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate elections in Michigan in 2018 and 2020, losing both bids to Democratic incumbents Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, respectively.[3] After losing the 2020 race, James initially refused to concede and made unsubstantiated claims of fraud.[4][5][6][7][8] He eventually conceded on November 24, nearly three weeks after the election.[8]

Early life and military career[edit]

James was born in Southfield, Michigan in 1981 and grew up Baptist[9] in the Palmer Woods neighborhood of Detroit.[10] He graduated from the Catholic Brother Rice High School in 1999.[11] He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 2004,[11][12] and served for eight years in the Army, participating in multiple tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he was an AH-64 Apache aviation officer.[13][14] He attended the Ranger School and became Ranger-qualified.

James received a master's degree in supply chain management from Penn State University's Smeal College of Business[13] and an MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.[10]

Business career[edit]

In 2012, James joined James Group International, where his father, John A. James, was the CEO.[15] James Group is a global supply chain management service company; James became its director of operations, and eventually became president of James Group International and CEO of its subsidiary, Renaissance Global Logistics.[16][12] Renaissance Global, based in Detroit, was the recipient of a $1–2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[17]

James was named one of the Detroit Business Journal's 30 in their 30s of 2012, and Michigan Chronicle 40 under 40 of 2014.[18] He served as a board member of the Michigan Council for Future Mobility, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council and National Veteran Business Development Council. Currently, he serves on the Detroit Workforce Development Board.[19]

Political career[edit]

2018 U.S. Senate race[edit]

James with Trump at the White House in September 2018

In September 2017, James entered the Republican primary for the 2018 United States Senate election in Michigan[20] in an attempt to unseat three-term incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, as well as become Michigan's first African-American senator. Despite musician and Michigan native Kid Rock publicly toying with the idea of running for the seat for months, the primary came down to James and Grosse Pointe businessman Sandy Pensler.[21] James was endorsed via Twitter by President Donald Trump on July 27, 2018, eleven days before the Republican primary.[22] James won the GOP nomination with 55 percent of the vote.[23]

On November 6, 2018, incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow defeated James 52.3% to 45.8%.[24]

Potential United Nations ambassadorship[edit]

In late November 2018, Bloomberg News reported that Trump was considering nominating James to become the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, to replace Ambassador Nikki Haley, who previously announced that she was planning on leaving the Trump administration by the end of 2018. James reportedly met at the White House with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.[25] James was ultimately bypassed for the position. Trump announced he would appoint Heather Nauert, the Spokesperson for the United States Department of State and a former television reporter, to succeed Haley,[26] but Nauert was never nominated and announced in February 2019, that she was withdrawing from consideration.[27]

After Nauert's withdrawal, James was again considered by Trump for the ambassadorship,[28] but Trump eventually nominated United States Ambassador to Canada Kelly Knight Craft for the post.[29]

2020 U.S. Senate race[edit]

Because the election margin in the 2018 Senate race was smaller than expected, James became a front-runner for the Republican nomination to take on Michigan's other incumbent Democratic senator, Gary Peters, in the 2020 election.[30][31]

As well as being recruited to take on Peters, it was reported in June 2019 that the National Republican Congressional Committee was recruiting James to challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Representative Haley Stevens of Michigan's 11th congressional district.[32]

On June 6, 2019, James announced that he was seeking the Republican nomination in 2020 to take on Peters.[33] Michigan was one of two states in which an incumbent Democratic senator was seeking re-election during 2020 in a state won by Trump in 2016, with the other being Doug Jones in Alabama.[34] Although the Associated Press called the race for Peters on November 4, 2020,[3] James refused to concede, which Peters termed "pathetic."[5] James initially remained adamant that the election had not been administered fairly.[35] James established a joint legal fund with the Republican National Committee in a bid to challenge the election results.[4][6] While James claimed there was "ample evidence" for an investigation, he offered none.[7] James raised $2 million after the election as he sought to challenge the election results, and unsuccessfully attempted to block certification of the results of the election, which he lost to Peters by 92,335 votes.[36] James conceded on November 24, almost three weeks after the election, over social media, offering his congratulations to Peters.[8]

During his campaign, James pledged to give 5% of his campaign contributions towards charity. The James fundraising committee reported about $46.12 million in total contributions for the 2020 election and has given more than $2.36 million towards charities.[37]

Political positions[edit]

During his 2018 Senate campaign, James ran on a typical Republican platform, describing himself on his campaign website as "a pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-business conservative."[38] He emphasized his desire to defund Planned Parenthood[38] and compared Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, to "genocide."[39] He opposes the death penalty, does not believe employers should be able to fire workers due to their sexual orientation, and opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.[40]

James says he wants to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which he has called "a monstrosity."[41] According to The Detroit Free Press, James was careful not to take a position on the Trump administration's lawsuit seeking to immediately strike down the entire ACA as unconstitutional.[42] When pressed in a September 2020 interview, he said he was against the ACA lawsuit without a replacement plan in place, but did not criticize Republicans for pushing the lawsuit.[43]

James supported Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries.[40] He later became a Donald Trump supporter,[40] and tweeted in 2018 that, if elected to the Senate, he would back Trump "2,000%."[44][45] During his 2020 campaign, James accepted Trump's endorsement and campaigned alongside him.[46][47] James has not been publicly critical of Trump or his actions, such as using force to clear peaceful protestors for a photo op.[42] During a meeting with Black faith leaders, James was asked whether he disagreed with Trump on anything. James said, "Everything from cutting Great Lakes funding to 'shithole countries' to speaking ill of the dead. I mean, where do you want to start?"[48] In a leaked audio recording of a meeting with African American leaders in Michigan, James was asked why he hadn't publicly criticized Trump. He said he thought it was better to be silent in public in order to gain access to Trump. James said, "Donald Trump doesn't need less Black folks around him, he needs more," and that his goal was "achieving equity and equality for our people, not standing up on Twitter and condemning folks."[49] During the campaign, Democrats sought to tie James to Trump, while James has said his candidacy was not a referendum on the president.[38]

During his 2020 campaign, James declined to take specific positions on a number of policy questions, including how the Social Security Trust Fund would be protected from the impact of a payroll tax cut, whether the Senate should vote to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg before or after the 2020 presidential election, or whether he thinks military bases named for Confederate generals should be renamed.[42][50][51]

Personal life[edit]

James married his wife, Elizabeth, in 2012.[52] They have three sons.[53] When James was still dating Elizabeth, he had an encounter with police at a mall in a suburb of Detroit in which the officers drew their guns at him; James believes that, if Elizabeth had not been beside him, he might have been killed. He has also expressed his fear of being killed whenever police pull him over for a traffic stop.[54]

James is a nondenominational Christian.[9]

Electoral history[edit]

2018 United States Senate election in Michigan (Republican primary)[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John James 518,564 54.7
Republican Sandy Pensler 429,885 45.3
Republican William White (write-in) 57 .01
2018 United States Senate election in Michigan[24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Debbie Stabenow (incumbent) 2,214,478 52.26 -6.54%
Republican John James 1,938,818 45.76 +7.78%
Green Marcia Squier 40,204 0.95 +0.35
Taxpayers George Huffman III 27,251 0.64 +0.08
Natural Law John Howard Wilhelm 16,502 0.39 +0.15
Write-in Total write-in 18 0.00043 -0.0014
Majority 275,660 6.5% -14.32
Turnout 4,237,231 100.0% -8.9
Democratic hold
2020 United States Senate election in Michigan[56]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Gary Peters (incumbent) 2,734,568 49.90% -4.71%
Republican John James 2,642,233 48.22% +6.89%
Taxpayers Valerie Willis 50,597 0.92% -0.28%
Green Marcia Squier 39,217 0.72% -0.12%
Natural Law Doug Dern 13,093 0.24% N/A
Write-in 12 0.00% ±0.00%
Total votes 5,479,720 100.0%
Democratic hold


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  2. ^ Gibbons, Lauren (July 18, 2017). "Detroit Businessman John E. James Exploring Run for U.S. Senate". MLive. Booth Michigan. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Ehley, Brianna (November 4, 2020). "Gary Peters Wins Reelection in Michigan". Politico.
  4. ^ a b "New: John James establishes joint legal fund with RNC". Michigan Advance. November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Eggert, David (November 5, 2020). "Peters Says James' Refusal to Concede Election 'Pathetic'". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "John James launches legal defense fund as he contests Michigan election results". WJBK. November 11, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Ken Haddad (November 5, 2020). "With Peters ahead, John James says 'ample evidence' for investigation, but offers none". WDIV-TV.
  8. ^ a b c DesOrmeau, Taylor (November 25, 2020). "John James concedes Senate race, congratulates Gary Peters with bottle of Scotch". mlive. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Miller, John J. (May 14, 2020). "John James, the Michigan GOP's Rising Star". National Review. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Johnstone, Keith (September 21, 2020). "As a Black man, I Am Ashamed of John James". The Michigan Daily (Opinion). University of Michigan. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Peters, Jeremy W. (August 3, 2018). "John James, Black and Republican, Thinks He Can Crack the 'Blue Wall' in Michigan". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Livengood, Chad (July 18, 2017). "Detroit Businessman John E. James Moves into Campaign Mode for U.S. Senate". Crain's Detroit Business.
  13. ^ a b King, R.J.; Schultz, John S.; Beaman, Tom; Keenan, Tim & Calabrese, Dan (October 8, 2012). "30 in Their Thirties 2012". Detroit Business Journal. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
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  15. ^ Karoub, Jeff (August 8, 2018). "Trump-Backed John James Wins Michigan's GOP Senate Nod". Associated Press. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Livengood, Chad (April 15, 2018). "From a Liquidated Trucking Company, a Logistics Group Rises". Crain's Detroit Business.
  17. ^ Eggert, David (July 6, 2020). "Firms tied to legislative leader, Senate Candidate Got Loans". Associated Press.
  18. ^ Wheeler, Tatiana (October 1, 2014). "Congratulations to Our Class of 2014 40 Under 40!". Michigan Chronicle. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  19. ^ McKinney, Jeffrey (June 7, 2017). "Is This BE 100s Executive Michigan's Next Republican Senator?". Black Enterprise. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
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  23. ^ Bureau of Elections (September 27, 2018). "2018 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Bureau of Elections (November 26, 2018). "2018 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  25. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer (November 26, 2018). "Trump Considering Ex-Michigan Senate Candidate for UN Ambassador, Sources Say". Bloomberg News. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  26. ^ Johnson, Eliana; Toosi, Nahal; Orr, Gabby & Strauss, Daniel (December 7, 2018). "Trump Picks State Department Spokeswoman for top UN Post". Politico. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  27. ^ Shesgreen, Deirdre (February 16, 2019). "Heather Nauert, President Trump's Choice for UN Ambassador Job, Withdraws in Surprise Move". USA Today. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  28. ^ "Michigan's John James in Running for UN Ambassador, Reports Say". Detroit Free Press. February 19, 2019. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  29. ^ Rucker, Philip & Gearan, Anne (February 22, 2019). "Trump Announces Nomination of Kelly Knight Craft to Be Ambassador to United Nations". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ Fleming, Leonard N. (November 12, 2018). "GOP Sees Bright Future for James After Close Senate Race". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
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  36. ^ Malachi Barrett, [1], MLive (December 7, 2020).
  37. ^ Craig Mauger (July 16, 2021). "John James campaign says it's achieved promise, giving $2.3M to charity". The Detroit News.
  38. ^ a b c Barrett, Malachi (September 21, 2019). "John James Says His 2020 Senate Run Is About Michigan, not Trump". MLive. Booth Michigan. Retrieved April 18, 2020. Among James' top legislative priorities is creating an educational environment that gives parents and teachers more power, saying poor education outcomes are the root cause of many of the country’s problems.
  39. ^ Barrett, Malachi (November 23, 2019). "Michigan Democrats Hit John James for Anti-Abortion Comments". MLive. Booth Michigan. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  40. ^ a b c Fleming, Leonard N.; Oosting, Jonathan (July 6, 2018). "James, Pensler clash on abortion, Trump in GOP U.S. Senate debate". The Detroit News. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  41. ^ Perks, Ashley (December 3, 2019). "GOP Set for All-Out Battle over Michigan Senate Seat". The Hill. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  42. ^ a b c Spangler, Todd (September 24, 2020). "In One of the Nastier Races, John James and Sen. Gary Peters Offer Different Styles". Detroit Free Press.
  43. ^ LaFave, Nick (September 28, 2020). "After Months, John James Says He Is Against ACA Lawsuit Without a 'Plan in Place'". Walker, Michigan: WZZM-TV.
  44. ^ Nann Burke, Melissa (June 5, 2019). "John James Pursues Second Run for U.S. Senate in Michigan". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  45. ^ Spanger, Todd (October 15, 2018). "Stabenow, James Go After Each Other in First U.S. Senate Debate". Detroit Free Press.
  46. ^ Barrett, Malachi (September 10, 2020). "Donald Trump Offers 'Total and Complete Endorsement' of John James in Michigan". MLive. Booth Michigan.
  47. ^ Nann Burke, Melissa (June 10, 2020). "Democrats: White House Event Promoting John James Violated Hatch Act". The Detroit News.
  48. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (May 9, 2020). "The One Republican Senate Candidate Willing to Call Out Donald Trump". Politico.
  49. ^ DeVito, Lee (May 29, 2020). "Republican Senate Candidate John James Says It's Pointless to Call Out Trump's Racism in Leaked Audio". Detroit Metro Times.
  50. ^ Barrett, Malachi (September 24, 2020). "Michigan Democrats Push John James to Clarify Stance on Supreme Court Vacancy". MLive. Booth Michigan.
  51. ^ Hendrickson, Clara (September 25, 2020). "John James Stands Out for Not Taking Stance on Vacant Supreme Court Seat". Detroit Free Press.
  52. ^ James, John [@johnjamesmi] (December 29, 2017). "Five years ago today, I married the love of my life. And you have said 'I do' to our crazy adventure together 1,825 times since! Happy Anniversary, Elizabeth. Your beauty is only surpassed by your mettle. You make me feel like we can change the world!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  53. ^ Krafcik, Michael (October 5, 2020). "U.S. Senate: John James, Republican". Kalamazoo, Michigan: WWMT-TV. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  54. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. & Gray, Kathleen (July 29, 2020). "A Black Republican Feels the Sting of Racism but Is Silent on Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  55. ^ Bureau of Elections (August 7, 2018). "Michigan Primary results". 2018 Michigan Primary Election Results. Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  56. ^ "2020 Michigan Election Results Official". Michigan Secretary of State. Retrieved November 23, 2020.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 1)

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Preceded by
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 2)