Major Newspaper That Backed Democrat Senator Now Backs GOP Challenger John James for Michigan

October 25, 2020 Updated: October 26, 2020

The Detroit News, one of two major Detroit newspapers, is endorsing Republican Senate candidate John James for Michigan’s Senate seat.

It had backed Democratic incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in 2014, when he was first elected.

“This is the right moment for John James,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “He is waging his campaign at a time when America is trying to work through its long history of racial animus. As an African American, a conservative, and a Republican, James would add an important perspective to policy-making aimed at vanquishing racial inequity.”

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

The Detroit News highlighted his background as a businessman and Army veteran, writing that James “helped lead his family’s successful auto supply business. As an Army Ranger pilot, he led soldiers in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

The paper said that James will support healthcare protections for those with pre-existing conditions while being an advocate to reform the market to “drive down the cost of health care.” He will also keep in place individual health insurance policies, the paper’s editorial board wrote.

It added that it does not make its endorsement decisions based on political affiliations, instead basing its decision on who would “best serve their community.”

“It is an honor to have the endorsement of one of Michigan’s most prestigious and well-read publications,” James said in a statement to media outlets. “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.”

On Twitter, he wrote of his endorsement from the paper, “Michigan stands to gain increased influence in the Senate, representation for underrepresented Americans & a leader on COVID recovery and economic growth.”

The Detroit News first endorsed James when he attempted a run for the Senate in 2018 against incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

James, Peters, and three other candidates are competing for the Michigan Senate seat. The race marks Peters’s effort to secure a second six-year term.

President Donald Trump has said that James has his “total and complete endorsement.”

“John, I am with you. You have my total and complete endorsement. You have everything I can do, everything I can do we will do for you and I really believe you’re going to make it,” the president said at a rally in Michigan in September.

“This guy Peters—Peters right? Who is this guy Peters? Nobody knows him. He doesn’t do anything,” Trump also said at the rally.

Responding to the president’s comments, Peters’s campaign released a statement saying: “No Democratic Senator has passed and enacted more laws during the Trump administration than U.S. Senator Gary Peters.”

“From working to expand apprenticeship opportunities for our veterans, saving taxpayers millions, supporting our small businesses and protecting our food supply and agricultural communities—Gary Peters is effective, bipartisan, and gets things done for Michigan,” the statement added.

A press release from Peters’s Senate office on Oct. 22 appeared to highlight that the senator has a “record of effectiveness and bipartisanship.” The office noted on Oct. 21 in another press release that Peters now has “six standalone bills signed into law under President Trump—the most of any Democratic senator in his presidency.”

gary peters
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) speaks at a campaign event with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Southfield, Michigan, Oct. 16, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Despite serving in his first term and in the minority, Peters also has passed through Congress and sent eight standalone bills to the White House to be signed into law since he began serving in the Senate in 2015, the most of any Democratic senator during this period,” the Oct. 21 statement said. “He also has passed 14 bills through the Senate since 2017, the most of any Democratic senator since Trump took office. In addition he’s passed nine bills out of the Senate this Congress (2019-2020), which is more than any other Senator from either party.”

Thirty-five of 100 Senate seats are up for election in November. Republicans currently have a 53-45 majority over Democrats in the Senate. They will be defending 23 seats as Democrats defend 12 in the upcoming elections.

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