Hometown: Farmington Hills, Mich.
Occupation: President, James Group International
Education: Penn State University, University of Michigan, U.S. Military Academy at West Point
The U.S. Senate race in Michigan has become a focal point for the midterm elections nationwide with longtime Sen. Debbie Stabenow facing political unknown John James.
James bested his opponent in the primary, Sandy Pensler, who was also new to politics. James is a veteran and was a combat pilot in Operation Iraqi Freedom. That military experience has been a key factor in his campaign.
The businessman said he knows what works for Michigan and is ready to take his leadership to Washington.
“My job in the U.S. Senate is going to be to bring balance to the floor of the U.S. Senate,” James said. “Working hand-in-hand with Gary Peters to make sure that regardless of who is the in the White House or who is in the majority, Michigan has a voice in Washington.”
James has been a big fan of the White House. He’s had the Vice President come to Michigan multiple times on behalf of his campaign; Donald Trump, Jr. held a rally and Lara Trump, the President’s daughter-in-law, held an event as well. Being a Trump-backer, as raised questions, however. James said, he will stand up to the President whenever he needs to.
“When I was in Iraq I didn’t fight for Democrats or Republicans, I fought for Americans. In my business, I don’t serve liberals or conservatives, I serve my customers. I’m looking forward to bringing that same dedication of service to Washington,” he said.
James said he’s tired of the country’s education system failing American children. He supports the idea of local control for states and communities, but wants the federal government to focus on funding for infrastructure.
“I believe that the federal government might have a role in handling, I don’t know, broken and rusty pipes in our schools so kids in Detroit don’t have to drink bottled water,” James said. “We need to make sure that we are driving more resources to the classroom so that our brave and awesome teachers can get the resources they need to teach because these teachers are on a mission and we need to support them on that mission.”
James wants to put an emphasis on creating a "pipeline of prosperity" to ensure students in rural parts of the state have access to opportunities. To make these changes, he wants to look at other countries who have been successful with education for their youth.
“Looking at China, look at how they bring folks in and how their math scores are off the charts. What are they doing in Germany around apprenticeships and internships, co-ops, to make sure our children graduate from high school not only college ready, but with a skill set so they can have a career at either a vocation or the skilled trades,” added James. “There are certain things we can deploy in impoverished areas right here at home.”
Farmers and the Farm Bill
The Farm Bill has been a major focus for James’ opponent. Despite that, James said farmers face the same issues as he does as a business owner.
James said too many federal regulations stifles abilities to thrive and believes having a comprehensive immigration reform will help farmers continue their operations and expand.
“Getting enough workers to come and work the fields without the red tape at the federal level,” he said. “Having somebody who recognizes that we have massive opportunity here in the state that is the second most diverse agricultural state in the Union. We have the ability to roll back regulations.”
The military veteran has said in the past that he knows firsthand what it takes to secure the boarder of the United States. With that, he believes in immigration, so long as it’s legal, and called it an "economic and moral imperative" for the country.
“We need to make sure that we have very straight forward, very fair, legal immigration and that we stop illegal immigration using any and all means,” he said.
He is a proponent of defunding sanctuary cities and make sure they do not occur in the country.
With the "new NAFTA" deal announced by the Trump Administration, James said this is the first step in the right direction.
“We need to make sure that we tear down barriers to free for fair trade and sometimes that requires sticking up for yourself,” he said, referring to keeping tariffs in place for some countries.
James said the trade war is not at all a way, and emphasized these negotiations will continue, but he wants to make sure Michigan gets the best deal possible.
“When you level the playing field, we can compete with anyone,” said James.
The topic of health care is one where James has said multiple times "both parties have failed." He has criticized Republicans for pushing for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without having a plan in place.
“We need to make sure that we have market based, patient centered healthcare that MUST take care of preexisting conditions, it’s very serious,” he said.
While believing in covering preexisting conditions, he does not support the idea of a universal health care plan. James wants a system that "empowers patients and doctors, not the federal government and the insurance companies." To accomplish that, he calls for an overhaul.
“I think you achieve this by having tort reform and regulatory reform that increases transparency, increases competition and that will result in a higher quality of care and decrease cost,” he said.
James has run his campaign on the ideas that he is a Republican because he’s conservative, not the other way around.
To learn more about James, visit his campaign website.