Trump endorses John James for open US House seat centered in Macomb Co.

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Republican businessman John James for the competitive seat in Michigan's new 10th District that could help decide which party controls the U.S. House next year.

James, 40, of Farmington Hills is an Army veteran recruited by national Republicans to run for Congress after his two failed bids for U.S. Senate in Michigan. 

John James addresses the crowd as President Donald Trump holds a rally in Lansing on Oct. 27, 2020.

The GOP former president highlighted James' military service as a helicopter pilot in Iraq, calling him a "fantastic" candidate. 

"He is a job creator and a problem solver who knows how to deliver for Michigan. What’s more important during a supply chain crisis than a supply chain expert?" Trump said in a statement. "John James is going to be a great Republican member of Congress, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

James is president of his family's business, the James Group International, a supply-chain management firm in southwest Detroit. 

"Excited and grateful for President Donald Trump’s endorsement!" James tweeted Thursday. "President Trump knows that relevant leadership experience is what Michigan’s 10th congressional district needs to help lead our Country back to safety and prosperity.”

Trump also endorsed James when he ran for Senate twice and lost in 2018 and 2020 against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, though James  outperformed the top of the Republican ticket in both races. 

The new 10th District is considered a potential swing seat, covering parts of Macomb and Oakland counties including Rochester Hills, Warren and Sterling Heights. 

The seat is open after redistricting because U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, opted to run for reelection next door in the 11th District that covers parts of Oakland County, along with Rep. Haley Stevens, who had lived in Rochester Hills until late last year.  

The Democratic primary field in the new 10th is still growing, with the recent addition of Rhonda Powell to the list of candidates that includes former judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga, Sterling Heights City Councilman Henry Yanez, Warren City Councilwoman Angela Rogensues and Huwaida Arraf, a civil rights attorney in Macomb Township. 

“Michigan’s 10th Congressional District already rejected John James in the past two elections because he’s shown he’d be a rubber stamp for his extreme Washington party bosses even when it means threatening Michigan’s jobs, health care, and even our democracy,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Elena Kuhn.

John James visited with President Donald Trump in the White House on Sept. 17, 2018.

When he entered the race in late January, James said he wanted to focus on education in his campaign and specifically highlighted giving "power" back to parents. He would also use the position to advocate for Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, he said.

James was in Washington on Wednesday and met with leaders at defense contractor General Dynamics, whose General Dynamics Land Systems is headquartered in the district in Sterling Heights. 

James also met with House Republican leaders and lawmakers at the Capitol Hill Club, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York and U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

James faces Tony Marcinkewciz of Macomb Township in the GOP primary, after attorney and former U.S. House candidate Eric Esshaki of Birmingham dropped out and endorsed James in February.

James doesn't reside in the new 10th District, though he isn't required to live there to be elected to Congress. Spokeswoman Abby Walls said James is working with a real estate agent. 

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer Craig Mauger contributed.