Chamber endorses James for U.S. Senate, criticizes Stabenow's record

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
John James points to his wife, Elizabeth, as he thanks her after thanking God.

Lansing — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce threw its support behind Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James during a Wednesday press conference.

The endorsement of the Farmington Hills businessman was an easy call, though the U.S. Chamber does not endorse lightly, said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the group. The chamber has had a “front row experience” over two decades with three-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s work, he said.  

“In two decades, she has failed to show the leadership on initiatives that are important to Michigan, important to United States prosperity and the business community,” Bradley said at a press conference Wednesday.

Bradley would not detail the group's spending plans for James but said to “stay tuned” for “additional resource commitments.”

James, who is also an Iraq war veteran, has the support of President Donald Trump, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. But the Detroit Regional Chamber's political action committee endorsed Stabenow in June, calling the Lansing Democrat “a tremendous champion for Michigan in Congress” and noted her support for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, small businesses and agriculture.

At the Lansing announcement, James talked about his family’s logistics and trucking business while highlighting the potential to realize the American dream. He made several mentions of his plans to help farmers, an apparent nod to the agricultural groups that have supported Stabenow.

“Jobs are just a part of the equation, they’re not a solution on their own,” James said. “In order for Michigan to thrive, we need to make sure that each and every citizen can again and forever be able to achieve the American dream.”

The 37-year-old Army Apache helicopter pilot is the first African-American Republican nominated to a high-level statewide office in Michigan since former Wayne County Executive Bill Lucas in 1986.

James trailed Stabenow 53 percent to 35 percent in the latest Detroit News poll taken Sept. 30-Oct. 2. But in the polls by double digits in recent weeks, but the race is tightening following the contentious confirmation of U.S. Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said East Lansing pollster Steve Mitchell.

James told reporters Wednesday that he would have voted for Kavanaugh but noted that “we must believe accusers” and “the accused have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

The political gamesmanship during the nomination process was a disservice to the U.S., he said, and “quite embarrassing.” 

The Gongwer subscription news service reported in late September that James wouldn't say how he would vote on Kavanaugh after the sexual assault allegations were made but criticized Stabenow for not giving the judge a fair chance.

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