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James calls Peters 'Gary the Gaslighter' as he gets help from Nikki Haley

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Novi — Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley pushed Thursday for John James to be elected senator, describing him as a "good quality" candidate, a job creator and combat veteran who gets America's values and will help preserve the GOP's Senate majority.

Haley, who also served as governor of South Carolina before joining the President Donald Trump administration, said "all eyes are on Michigan" and the president needs a Republican majority in the Senate.

"It's not just that we want a Republican. We want someone that's of good quality, someone who knows what hard work is," said Haley at a socially distanced rally of more than 100 people at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. "He understands that whatever we do, it's going to affect our children, our grandchildren, whether it's health care, whether it's education. That's why we're fighting for John."

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley spoke Thursday at a Novi campaign event for Republican U.S. Senate challenger John James. File photo

Haley, who also made appearances with James on Fox News host Sean Hannity's show the night before, took aim at U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, accusing him of being ineffective and not showing up for meetings — arguments the Peters camp says are false.

"Michigan deserves better," she said. "There's a lot at stake, not just for the people of Michigan, but for our country."

With the election winding down, Peters and James are bringing in surrogates to press their cases to voters. The Rev. Al Sharpton was in Detroit Wednesday stumping for Peters.

James was fiercer in his criticism of Peters, calling him "Gary the Gaslighter" and someone who isn't showing up for work and was missing in action during the beginning stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Peters is the ranking Democrat on the Senate's Homeland Security Committee.

"Right now, Gary Peters is depriving us of our constitutional rights to two senators," James said. "Right now, the 'Invisible Man' who is not showing up for work but who is showing up in an election year asking for our vote, will have five days until we have the opportunity to show him that in Michigan, you have to show up for work."

James said Peters hasn't solved the Asian carp problem threatening Michigan's Great Lakes or protected Flint from contaminated water. The lead crisis came to light in September 2015 during the senator's first year in office.

Peters, James implored, "failed to do his job."

"Here's the thing: Gary Peters thinks that you're not paying attention," James said. "He condescends to us. He's gas lighting us."

Despite 12 years in the U.S. House and Senate, "why is there still Asian Carp DNA in the Chicago River? Why is there still algae blooms in Lake Erie? Why is there still PFAS in our waterways?"

In the past two years, Peters has been pushing  the federal government to address the PFAS chemical contamination in Michigan. 

Peters spokeswoman Vanessa Valdivia called James' criticism a "last-ditch attempt to save his disastrous campaign as he falls further behind in the polls."

"John James and his Washington allies continue to lob the same desperate attacks that have been fact checked by independent outlets as ‘misleading’ and ‘demonstrably false," she said. "Michiganders know that Sen. Gary Peters is an effective, bipartisan leader who has battled to deliver results on issues that matter to them."

In an Oct. 23-25 Detroit News-WDIV poll released this week, Peters has widened his lead to about 10 percentage points over James with 8.7 percent undecided.

John James

James, who lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing in 2018, is making his second bid for public office.

Both candidates raised well over $70 million by early October and are projected to collect more than $100 million and shatter fundraising records for past Michigan campaigns.

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

Twitter:@leonardnfleming