2020 Election

Detroit News Endorses John James for Senate

Newspaper backed Gary Peters in 2014

John James
Senator-elect John James (R., Mich.) / Getty Images

A major Detroit newspaper endorsed Republican challenger John James over Democratic incumbent Gary Peters in Michigan's Senate race after backing Peters in 2014.

On Wednesday, the editorial board of the Detroit News endorsed James, a West Point grad and Detroit native, arguing that his unique background as a black Republican will bring fresh ideas to a country in the middle of a racial reckoning.

It's the second endorsement James has received from the News, which also supported his 2018 campaign against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.).

"This is the right moment for John James," the editorial board wrote. "He is waging his campaign at a time when America is trying to work through its long history of racial animus. As an African American, a conservative, and a Republican, James would add an important perspective to policy-making aimed at vanquishing racial inequity."

In an election cycle that has forced many Republican incumbents on the defensive, James has emerged as a credible challenger to the freshman Peters, threatening Democrats' chances of retaking the Senate.

RealClearPolitics rates the race a tossup, finding that Peters is only five percentage points ahead of James on average. Both parties have poured money into the race, with Peters raising $35 million and James $33 million.

Detroit community leaders told the Washington Free Beacon that enthusiasm for Peters's campaign has been lackluster among the city's African-American voters, a key demographic that composes nearly 80 percent of the city's population.

The News endorsement, however, might help shift voter support towards James.

The News, one of two major Detroit newspapers, endorsed Peters's successful Senate run against Republican Terri Lynn Land in 2014, citing Land's lackluster campaigning and Peters's bipartisan record.

In its Wednesday endorsement, the News credited Peters for his senatorial successes but argued that the Senate needs more diverse voices, such as James, who would oppose the progressive agenda in Congress.

"Peters is one of 73 white males in the Senate. It's a demographic that's well represented," the endorsement read. "Clearly, the Senate would benefit from more Black voices as it addresses this national crisis, as would the Republican Party. The GOP can't survive as a whites-only institution. Nor can the racial divide close if only one party represents the interests of Black Americans."