Michigan GOP Senate Candidate Had So Much Fun Losing In 2018, He’s Back For More!


Getting the Senate out of Mitch McConnell's creepy hands is just about as important as evicting Donald Trump from the White House. A key race is in Michigan, where Republican John James hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Gary Peters. (Peters shared his story of his and his wife's experience with abortion with Elle today and you should read it.) The candidates are projected to spend a combined $100 million in the Senate race, a state record that the Detroit Metro-Times claims “dwarfs the $93.4 million spent on the 2018 governor's race between Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Schuette." (The Metro-Times is generous in its use of the word “dwarfs" here.)

James is trailing Peters by five points according to the Real Clear Politics average, which is an improvement over his almost seven-point loss to Debbie Stabenow in 2018. That's nothing to write home about, though, unless the subject of the letter is “I'm losing another Senate race."

During the 2018 election, James, a former fighter pilot, described himself as a “conservative warrior," someone who "hated politics but loves this country." That would make him a bad fit for a career in, you know, politics. He might as well just stick to complaining about “do-nothing politicians" at his local bar.

James is Black, but he has no problem showing up at Trump's hate rallies. Low marginal tax rates are just that important to him. During a conference call with Black leaders in Michigan, James insisted Trump doesn't need “less Black folks around him. He needs more." This implies Trump would become less racist if there were more Black Republicans in his orbit, but he'd just wind up requesting a more elaborate musical number.

Trump can also barely keep track of the few Black Republicans there are now. During his September 10 rally at the MBS International Airport in Freeland, Trump thought James was running for governor, but James won't have the chance to lose to Whitmer until 2022.

The following are actual words Trump said while trying to sell Michigan voters on James:

Hello, John James. I see you handsome guy. John James, get out and vote for John. I'm going to introduce you in a second John James. What a job you've done. I have to tell you, he took, I saw this group of people that were running, all nice people, three very rich people and one guy that was John James and I saw them all. Right? I saw them all and I said, "Wait."

With the wonderful invention of TiVo, one of the greats, you can play it back. I said, "Who was that?" He said, "I don't know, sir." I said, "Play it back." I said, "That man is going to be a star." It was John James. That was in the Republican primary. After learning about him with his incredible career and helicopter, and he's a great, and actually a great flyer I heard the other day, a great one, a really good one as opposed to those that aren't so good, but his incredible background and education at West Point and all of the things he did. I said, "This guy" and I endorsed him and he went like a rocket ship. Frankly, if he had a little more support, he would have won the last time. This time, I hear you're even, and maybe even ahead, and we're going to win with John James. He's a great guy, but I'm going to introduce him in a second.

Yeah, Biden's the senile one.

If James is hoping to catch a ride on Trump's coattails, he's out of luck. The president narrowly won Michigan in 2016 with his unofficial second running mate Jill Stein. However, he's down an average seven points in the state against Joe Biden. Put in perspective: Biden's current lead in Michigan is greater than Trump's in South Carolina and Texas. Trump's campaign had bailed on Michigan in the summer, but President Pandemic is now returning to Big Gretch's airwaves, where he's not welcome.

James hasn't yet tried to make a play for Biden voters in the event Trump loses the state. North Carolina GOP Senator Thom Tillis has already cut bait on the COVID-spreader-in-chief, arguing that reelecting him and preserving the GOP Senate majority would provide "the best check on a Biden presidency."

But a Republican-controlled Senate won't provide a check, only obstruction. That wasn't fun during the Obama administration when there wasn't a pandemic. Now people are facing bankruptcy from failing businesses or eviction because they can't pay rent. Americans need a Senate leadership that will work with Biden, not one that will make sure he fails over our dead bodies.

Now's the worst time to vote for a Republican Senate candidate, and that includes “conservative warrior" John James.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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