It’s not every day that a candidate tees themself up to be rejected by voters TWICE and to be defeated by not one, but TWO sitting U.S. Senators. But this week, that’s precisely what John James did, announcing he will run for U.S. Senate in Michigan a second time, this time facing off against the highly popular and well-funded Gary Peters. In 2018, James was soundly defeated by Senator Debbie Stabenow.
It’s not hard to see why James was defeated. Although he is a handsome military veteran who got (and gets) lots of attention on Fox News and other conservative outlets (he made his announcement on Fox and Friends), he came across as a rank amateur as a candidate in 2018. Here he is making a joke about “grabbing boobs” in the context of a discussion about breast feeding:
Following up on the @SchuetteOnDuty video from earlier today, here’s his fellow Michigan Republican @JohnJamesMI coming with a creepy comment about “grabbing boobs” when telling a story about how he was breast fed. Wtf? #MiSen pic.twitter.com/hUJiopTZlV
— Shripal Shah (@shripal734) October 12, 2018
And then there was his odd decision to include video of a school hallway with a clearly displayed swastika on the wall:
Shortly after being defeated by Stabenow, James began cleansing the internet of his 2018 ads, deleting hundreds of videos, but I kept this one so you can see the swastika in context:
Here’s what I wrote about this at the time:
It’s difficult to parse what James is trying to do here. Usually “failing schools” is a racist dog whistle that means “schools where the students are not white”. However, James is black so that wouldn’t play particularly well. But swastikas and Nazis aren’t something you normally see associated with dilapidated schools or schools where academic performance is poor. As a candidate who has said he’s “2000%” behind Donald Trump — a president who seems to have a warm spot in his heart for white nationalists and Nazis — James’ use of a swastika sends a message with no content. And if you’re going to throw around swastikas, you damn well better have some context to put it in.
In the final analysis, John James seems out of his league and clueless about the needs and issues of common Americans. Most people don’t find jokes about “grabbing boobs” funny and I can’t think of anyone who associates “failing schools” with Nazis and swastikas.
Given the massive turnout of women at the polls in 2018, it’s not particularly surprising that James got clobbered by one. Here he is explaining to women what they want in politics and leadership: A man.
We have an obligation to future generations to make sure that we are operating within the role that we have to lead. And yes that is not politically correct, but men, we have a charge to lead and we are failing in that because we are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings.
The fact of the matter is women want men who have been tested. And boys need to be tested. And we are those examples. And so this falls silently on our shoulders to ensure that we are the Christian business leaders and the men that we must have in order to make sure that subsequent generations have the blessings that we have today.
It’s hard to imagine that all of the women reading this right now are nodding to themselves and thinking, “Finally, a man who really gets me.” But John James is certain he’s got the ladies all figured out.
The funniest part about this is something I heard from a woman who knew James growing up. “Let me tell you, this shit makes me laugh,” she told me. “Why? Because when his mother put him in his place, he listened to her, a woman. When he was learning about the business, he listened to my mother, a woman.”
She also said his parents both supported Debbie Stabenow for years.
Republicans are clearly desperate, given how thin their roster of potential Senate candidates is. They’re the ones who ran Pete Hoekstra and Terri Lynn Land, after all. They’re so desperate, in fact, that they are resorting to calling Peters a socialist. This is from a fundraising email yesterday:
[O]our Freshman Senator Gary Peters refuses to stand up to radical Democrats like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.
Senator Peters is weak against the extreme socialist agenda Democrats want to impose on our country – and state. […]
We will have the choice between an agenda that puts Michigan and America First or Socialism.
Apparently, Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox is not aware that AOC and Rashida are in the House of Representatives and NOT the Senate. And in the same email, they go after Sen. Peters for his supporting the Green New Deal which he … hasn’t.
As, I said: desperate.
In his announcement party on Fox and Friends, James trotted out the socialist trope, too. “I have experience as a business leader, as a job creator, [on] how to protect our economy from socialism… I also as a combat veteran understand the service and sacrifice our veterans make every single day”. I’m not sure how being a business person trains you to save us all from the evils of socialism and it’s worth noting that Sen. Peters is also a military veteran.
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes was clear about who and what John James is:
Voters in 2018 soundly rejected John James and his platform that ignored the hard-working families of Michigan. Michigan voters will not be fooled by a reworked image of a failed candidate. […]
The Republicans are making a bold choice in trying to remake John James into a palatable candidate following a failed campaign filled with missteps and policy plans that did not represent the best interests of Michiganders. James is wrong on health care, the Great Lakes, and his support of the policies of the current President. […]
Candidates that need to hide their past positions will not appeal to Michigan voters, who know an empty suit when they see one. Senator Peters does not need a delete button.
Gary Peters raised nearly $2 million in the first quarter of 2019 and has over $3 million banked. According to Sen. Peters’ campaign, it was the largest first quarter haul for any U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan history. In an odd move I’ve never seen before that speaks to HIS desperation, John James pledges to donate 5% of his campaign donations to charity. In an even odder move, he sent out a fundraising email saying he’s not going to actually run for the Senate until early 2020 when he’ll have his “official kickoff” so he can continue to run his business and raise his family.
Maybe he’ll make up for his lazy campaign by getting Ted Nugent to endorse him again.
I know, I know. Nothing is certain in politics and this won’t be a slam dunk. As Republicans like to point out, Stabenow “only” beat James by “only” 6.5%. But, have no fear, we as Michigan Democrats will take nothing for granted. We will work hard to re-elect Gary Peters and once again reject a political poser who has to reinvent himself every two years in order to run.
You can make a donation to Senator Peters’ campaign and help Michigan defeat John James a second time by clicking HERE.