By now you’ve probably heard the quote from John James that he supports Donald Trump’s agenda “2000 percent“. The failed Republican candidate wanted desperately to ride Trump’s coattails into the U.S. Senate but was subsequently beaten soundly by Debbie Stabenow in 2018.
Lately, however, James has changed his tune. With polling showing Donald Trump down by as much as ten points to Joe Biden in Michigan, James is now trying to portray himself as something entirely different. A Politico piece last week quoted James distancing himself from Trump:
During a video conference with black community leaders last week, James was asked whether he disagreed with Trump on anything given the president’s support of his candidacy.
“Plenty, plenty of issues,” James responded. “Everything from cutting Great Lakes funding to ‘shithole countries’ to speaking ill of the dead,” apparently referring to Trump’s disparagement of the late Sen. John McCain. “I mean, where do you want to start?”
“And so yes, there’s gonna be places that I disagree with the president and those are just a couple,” he added.
James, a 38-year-old Iraq War veteran, also pushed back against what he described as a Democratic talking point that he was bankrolled by the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who hails from one of the state’s wealthiest political families.
“I haven’t gotten any money from Donald Trump. I haven’t gotten any money from Betsy DeVos. I haven’t gotten any money — that’s political talking points. Very little of that is true,” James said during the appearance, a video of which was obtained by POLITICO.
James claims the video was “leaked” to try to hurt him among Trump voters but plenty of political analysts believe that James’ campaign was actually the source of the video, not his opponents, as a way to distance himself from a president who is becoming less and less popular and more and more toxic with each passing day.
James told The Detroit News that he’s been saying these sorts of things “for years” but the only example he could show was a Buzzfeed article from two years ago where he made mild remarks declaring himself his own man and not in lockstep with Donald Trump.
As far as not taking money from the DeVos family, James is flat out lying about that:
A significant chunk of their spending this cycle has gone toward efforts to unseat Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.). Michigan’s junior Democratic senator is facing a challenge from Republican businessman John James, who lost his bid last cycle to defeat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).
The DeVos family in December donated $800,000 to a super PAC called the Better Future Michigan Fund, which was set up to boost James’ campaign. The group — which can accept unlimited donations — has spent almost $1 million to attack Peters, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The DeVoses have been the highest contributors to the group, with donations coming from three of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos’ four children — Daniel, Douglas and Cheri — and their spouses. (Dick DeVos Jr. is the fourth sibling.)
In December, Daniel and his wife, Pamella DeVos, each contributed $200,000 to the pro-James super PAC. Douglas and his wife, Maria DeVos, each contributed $100,000; Cheri DeVos and her husband, Steve Ehmann, each contributed $100,000.
Jerry Tubergen — CEO of RDV Corp., the DeVos’ investment management firm — contributed another $100,000 to the super PAC in December.
DeVos family members have also maxed out to James’ campaign, which is subject to federal contribution limits. Daniel, Douglas, Cheri, Pamella and Maria DeVos, along with Ehmann, have contributed a total of $33,600. James has outraised Peters for the past three quarters, although Peters has raised more overall in the cycle.
However, if you really want to know how closely James has tied himself to the Trump brand, consider this: Next Monday, James will cohost a fundraiser with none other than Donald Trump, Jr. It’s a virtual fundraiser, of course, and for the low, low price of $100, you can join “a personal Zoom conference call” with the two Republicans. Listen to the pitch here:
.@DonaldJTrumpJr will join #MISen candidate @JohnJamesMI for a virtual fundraiser next Monday. https://t.co/OmFOY1lWpX
— Malachi Barrett (@PolarBarrett) May 11, 2020
UPDATE: James’ is offering to actually interact with people “attending” his online fundraiser. But only if they pay one thousand dollars first:
Today: Donald Trump Jr. and Matt Schlapp co-host a Zoom fundraiser for Michigan Republican Senate candidate John James. $1,000 "VIP roundtable" donation gets you a question and a coffee mug pic.twitter.com/uKqR9hAY1e
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) May 18, 2020
Thankfully, Michiganders have an fantastic alternative. Unlike John James who seems to blow around in the political winds like wind sock, Gary Peters has established himself as someone who gets things done by working together in a bipartisan fashion. The Lugar Center named Peters the third most bipartisan Democrat and twelfth most bipartisan Senator overall in the U.S. Senate. Last year, they named him the fourth-most effective Democratic senator. He’s been working to protect Michiganders from PFAS contamination, has been a leader is ensuring that Flint would be made whole after their city was poisoned with lead, and continues to fight to make sure our state has the resources it needs during the current global pandemic. If you want to be sure Sen. Peters has the resources he needs to compete with the vast Republican funding machine enjoyed by John James, be sure to make a donation to Gary Peters today. You can do that HERE.
Listen to our recent interview with Senator Peters on The GOTMFV Show podcast HERE or here:
Here are Sen. Peters most recent TV ads: