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Republican Senate challenger John James topped Michigan U.S. Sen. Gary Peters' in fundraising for the third quarter in a row, though the first-term Democrat posted his best fundraising haul yet with $4 million.

James, an Army veteran and businessman from Farmington Hills, brought in roughly $800,000 more, reporting $4.8 million for the three-month period ending March 31, his campaign said Tuesday. That total is also the best quarter so far for James, who has raised nearly $13 million.

“This is a difficult time for Michigan. We are grateful for the support of our grassroots, across Michigan and the country, especially during these past few challenging months,” James spokeswoman Abby Walls said in a statement.

Neither campaign provided figures Tuesday about the cash they have left in the bank — figures that must be reported to the Federal Election Commission by April 15. Peters, a former congressman from Bloomfield Township, ended 2019 with an overall cash advantage.

Peters' campaign said its $4 million haul is the largest quarterly fundraising total for any Democrat in a U.S. Senate race in Michigan's history, and that the campaign has raised $13.4 million since the beginning of last year.

The Peters campaign said 94% of its donations during the quarter were $100 or less, and that he experienced a 60% increase in new donors from the previous quarter. 

“We’re so grateful for the overwhelming support our campaign has received from folks across Michigan,” Peters campaign manager Dan Farough said in a statement.

“As this campaign continues to break records and build momentum from grassroots donors, it’s clear Michiganders want to keep Gary’s effective leadership in the Senate."

Peters is one of two Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump won in 2016.

Peters' campaign has stressed in fundraising appeals — including one sent Monday — that the Michigan race could help determine whether Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate, and that polling has shown the race is "tied." 

A statewide poll of 600 likely Michigan voters in January by the Glengariff Group found Peters with a small lead over James but the candidates were in a statistical dead heat with Peters pulling 44% of support to James' 40%. The survey's margin of error was plus-minus 4 percentage points.

This is the second Senate bid for James. He lost in 2018 to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, by 6.5 percentage points.

Peters won his seat in the Senate in 2014 with 54% of the vote, defeating Republican former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land during what was otherwise a big year for the GOP in other Senate races.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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