Businessman and Iraq war veteran John James has filed to run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan after launching what he called an “exploratory committee” to prepare for the 2018 Republican primary. If he wins the primary, he would go up against the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Debbie Stabenow. A graduate of West Point, James led a platoon of attack helicopters in Iraq and is a self-described “conservative Republican.”
Among the other Republicans running are former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young and businesswoman Lena Epstein. Popular singer Kid Rock has also signaled his interest in the race, while U.S. Rep. Fred Upton has not ruled out a run. Boasting of his record of creating jobs in a state that still struggles with the decline of the automotive industry, James said he is the best GOP candidate in the field and most likely to put Stabenow in retirement.
After graduating West Point in 2004, James went to Iraq in 2007. He became a Ranger-qualified officer and flew Apache helicopters during the Iraqi Freedom conflict. Now the president of James Group International, which was founded by his father, he is also the CEO of Renaissance Global Logistics. Joining the family company where his mother and brother work in 2012, he president of the James International Group in 2014. Since 2012, the company has increased its annual revenues from $35 million to $137 million, and added 100 employees, he told the Detroit News.
While Stabenow was reelected by healthy margins in 2006 and 2012, the GOP has put a target on her back because Michigan was a state that Trump won in an upset last November. James dubbed her a “career politician” who has added to the growing federal deficit.
Stabenow has raised $2.1 million in the second quarter of this year, and has $5.8 million in her re-election war chest, according to a campaign announcement. Now that James has filed with the FEC, he can begin fundraising in earnest. He is relatively unknown in the Mitten State, and has not been active in donating to candidates in the past. His father, John A. James, has mostly donated to Democrats. In 2012, he donated $1500 to Stabenow. Candidate James acknowledges that he and his father have political differences, and has said that he has been a Republican since his teen years. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder launched his re-election campaign at a James Group International facility in Detroit, where in 2014 he was joined by James and his brother, Lorron James. Since then, Snyder appointed James to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility.
James says he supports the Second Amendment. He has said that he is an unapologetic Christian who is also pro-life and pro-business. As for the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, James said he is willing to see the treaty undergo a “health check.”
Corporate welfare rocks
While singer Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, is considering a run for the Senate as a Republican, his devotion to free-market principles is open to question. In a recent announcement of his platform, Kid Rock declared, “I believe if you work your butt off and pay taxes, you should be able to easily understand and navigate the laws, tax codes, health care and anything else the government puts in place that affects us all.”
A political neophyte, Kid Rock’s songs have not spoken about taxes or corporate welfare. In 2009, however, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation awarded $723,000 in tax incentives to the Michigan Brewing Company, which produced beer bearing his label. The MEDC has not released information as to whether or not any of those funds were received by the company before it went out of business in 2013.