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John E. James

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John James
Personal details
John Edward James

(1981-06-08) June 8, 1981 (age 43)
Detroit, 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
Rank Captain[1]
Battles/warsIraq War

John Edward James (born June 8, 1981) is an American politician, businessman, and veteran. After graduating from the United States Military Academy, he served for eight years in the Army, participating in multiple tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. After he was honorably discharged, James joined his family's supply chain business.

He was the Republican candidate for the 2018 United States Senate election in Michigan, losing to incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. James is the Republican nominee for the 2020 United States Senate election in Michigan, where he will face incumbent Democrat Gary Peters in the general election.

Education and military service[edit]

James graduated from Brother Rice High School in 1999.[3] He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point)[3][4] in 2004,[4] 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 pilot.[5][6] He attended the Ranger School and became Ranger-qualified, but was not a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment and is therefore not considered to be an Army Ranger by the U.S. Army.[7]

James received master's degrees from Penn State University's Smeal College of Business and the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.[4]

Business career[edit]

In 2012, James joined James Group International, where his father, John A. James, was the CEO.[8] James Group is a global supply chain management service company; James became its director of operations, and eventually became president of JGI and CEO of Renaissance Global Logistics.[9] Renaissance Global, based in Detroit, was the recipient of a $1–2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[10]

James was named one of the Detroit Business Journal's 30 in their 30s of 2012, and Michigan Chronicle 40 under 40 of 2014.[11] 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.[12]

Political career[edit]

2018 U.S. Senate race[edit]

In September 2017, James entered the Republican primary for the 2018 United States Senate election in Michigan[13] 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.[14] James was endorsed via Twitter by President Donald Trump on July 27, 2018, eleven days before the Republican primary.[15] James won the GOP nomination with 55 percent of the vote.[16]

On November 6, 2018, incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow defeated James 52.3% to 45.8%.[17]

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.[18] 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,[19] but Nauert was never formally nominated and announced in February 2019 that she was withdrawing from consideration.[20]

After Nauert's withdrawal, James was again considered by Trump for the ambassadorship,[21] but Trump eventually nominated United States Ambassador to Canada Kelly Knight Craft for the post.[22]

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.[23][24]

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.[25]

On June 6, 2019, James announced that he was seeking the Republican nomination in 2020 to take on Peters.[26] Michigan is one of two states where an incumbent Democratic senator will be seeking re-election in 2020 in a state won by Trump in 2016.[27]

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."[28] He emphasized his desire to defund Planned Parenthood[28] and compared Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, to "genocide," drawing criticism from Democrats.[29] 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.[30]

James supported Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries.[30] He later became a Donald Trump supporter,[30] and tweeted in 2018 that, if elected to the Senate, he would back Trump "2,000%."[31][32] During his 2020 campaign, James accepted Trump's endorsement and campaigned alongside him.[33][34] James has not been publicly critical of Trump or his actions, such as using force to clear protestors for a photo op.[35] 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?"[36] 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."[37] Democrats have sought to tie James to Trump, while James has said his Senate candidacy is about Michigan and is not a referendum on the president.[28]

James' top stated legislative priorities are "[giving] more power" to "parents and teachers" and increasing mental health resources for combat veterans.[28] He supports lower taxes, less government regulation, and small business tax credits. James has expressed support for law enforcement but has said that as a person of color, he understands the anxiety of being pulled over by police.[35] In his 2020 campaign, he has 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.[35][38][39]

James says he wants to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he has called "a monstrosity."[40] 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.[35] 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.[41]

Personal life[edit]

James and his wife, Elizabeth, have three sons.[42] He has spoken about several encounters he had with the police as a young black man, and his realization that he could just as easily have been killed during a traffic stop in the suburbs as he could have been killed at war and his fear that after a traffic stop his son may see him be killed.[43]

Electoral history[edit]

2018 United States Senate election in Michigan (Republican primary)[44]
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[17]
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


  1. Gibbons, Lauren (July 18, 2017). "Detroit businessman John E. James exploring run for U.S. Senate". MLive. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  2. LaDuke, Veronica (March 5, 2014). "John James to lead Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Board". Military and Veterans Affairs. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jeremy W. Peters, John James, Black and Republican, Thinks He Can Crack the 'Blue Wall' in Michigan, New York Times (August 3, 2018).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Chad Livengood, Detroit businessman John E. James moves into campaign mode for U.S. Senate, Crain's Detroit Business (July 18, 2017).
  5. 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. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  6. Fink, Jenni (October 9, 2018). "Trump Jr. Embodies Party of Privilege, Activist Says, But Michigan GOP Senate Candidate Says His Ancestors Were Slaves". Newsweek. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  7. Kessler, Glenn (August 4, 2020). "Yet another GOP Senate candidate uses 'Ranger' label despite Army caveat". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 5, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Karoub, Jeff (August 8, 2018). "Trump-Backed John James Wins Michigan's GOP Senate Nod". Associated Press. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  9. See Chad Livengood, "From a liquidated trucking company, a logistics group rises" Crain's Detroit Business April 15, 2018
  10. Eggert, David (July 6, 2020). "Firms tied to legislative leader, Senate candidate got loans". Associated Press.
  11. Wheeler, Tatiana (October 1, 2014). "Congratulations to Our Class of 2014 40 Under 40!". Michigan Chronicle. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  12. McKinney, Jeffrey (June 7, 2017). "Is This BE 100s Executive Michigan's Next Republican Senator?". Black Enterprise. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  13. Spangler, Todd (September 21, 2017). "Metro Detroit Businessman John James Joins U.S. Senate Race". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  14. Oosting, Jonathan; Nann Burke, Melissa (November 20, 2017). "Pensler Joins U.S. Senate Race to Take on Stabenow". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 26, 2018. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  15. Gibbons, Lauren (July 27, 2018). "Donald Trump Endorses John James in Michigan's U.S. Senate Race". MLive. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  16. Bureau of Elections (September 27, 2018). "2018 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bureau of Elections (November 26, 2018). "2018 Michigan Election Results". Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  18. Jacobs, Jennifer (November 26, 2018). "Trump Considering Ex-Michigan Senate Candidate for UN Ambassador, Sources Say". Bloomberg News. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  19. 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. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  20. 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.
  21. "Michigan's John James in Running for UN Ambassador, Reports Say". Detroit Free Press. February 19, 2019. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  22. Rucker, Philip; Gearan, Anne (February 22, 2019). "Trump Announces Nomination of Kelly Knight Craft to Be Ambassador to United Nations". The Washington Post. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  23. Fleming, Leonard N. (November 12, 2018). "GOP Sees Bright Future for James After Close Senate Race". The Detroit News. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  24. Gibbons, Lauren (December 1, 2018). "Michigan Republicans Hopeful in John James' Political Future After U.S. Senate Loss". Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  25. Barrett, Malachi (June 5, 2019). "Republicans Want John James to Run Again, Help Trump Win Michigan". MLive. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  26. Burke, Melissa Nann; Oosting, Jonathan (June 5, 2019). "John James Announces Second Run for U.S. Senate in Michigan". The Detroit News. Retrieved June 6, 2019. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  27. Bowman, Bridget; Pathé, Simone; Akin, Stephanie (November 4, 2019). "The Most Vulnerable Senators in 2020: Republicans Play Defense". Roll Call. Unknown parameter |name-list-style= ignored (help)
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Barrett, Malachi (September 21, 2019). "John James Says His 2020 Senate Run Is About Michigan, not Trump". MLive. 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.
  29. "Michigan Democrats Hit John James for Anti-Abortion Comments". MLive. November 23, 2019. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 "James, Pensler clash on abortion, Trump in GOP U.S. Senate debate". Detroit News. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  31. Burke, Melissa Nann. "John James Pursues Second Run for U.S. Senate in Michigan". The Detroit News. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  32. Todd Spanger, Stabenow, James go after each other in first U.S. Senate debate, Detroit Free Press (October 15, 2018).
  33. Donald Trump offers 'total and complete endorsement' of John James in Michigan, MLive (September 10, 2020).
  34. Melissa Nann Burke, Democrats: White House event promoting John James violated Hatch Act, The Detroit News (June 10, 2020).
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 Todd Spangler, In one of the nastier races, John James and Sen. Gary Peters offer different styles, Detroit Free Press (September 24, 2020).
  36. Alex Isenstadt, The one Republican Senate candidate willing to call out Donald Trump, Politico (May 9, 2020).
  37. Lee DeVito, Republican Senate candidate John James says it's pointless to call out Trump's racism in leaked audio, Detroit Metro Times (May 29, 2020).
  38. Malachi Barrett, Michigan Democrats push John James to clarify stance on Supreme Court vacancy, MLive (September 24, 2020).
  39. Clara Hendrickson, John James stands out for not taking stance on vacant Supreme Court seat, Detroit Free Press (September 25, 2020).
  40. Perks, Ashley (December 3, 2019). "GOP Set for All-Out Battle over Michigan Senate Seat". The Hill. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  41. Nick LaFave, After months, John James says he is against ACA lawsuit without a 'plan in place', WZZM (September 28, 2020).
  42. Krafcik, Michael (5 October 2020). "U.S. Senate: John James, Republican". WWMT. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  43. Peters, Jeremy W.; Gray, Kathleen (29 July 2020). "A Black Republican Feels the Sting of Racism but Is Silent on Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  44. Bureau of Elections (August 7, 2018). "Michigan Primary results". 2018 Michigan Primary Election Results. Michigan Department of State. Retrieved November 27, 2018.

External links[edit]

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

Most recent
Preceded by
Terri Lynn Land
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 2)


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