LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan businessman, military veteran and two-time Republican Senate candidate John James announced Monday he will run for an open House seat in the Detroit area.
The 10th District, newly created through redistricting, includes a chunk of Macomb County and a small portion of Oakland County and is considered competitive. Then-President Donald Trump narrowly won the area of the state in 2020 over Joe Biden.
“Our community needs a congressman who is grounded in real life — a leader who will defend our freedom, ensure good-paying jobs are available at home and offer to extend a helping hand to our neighbors in need,” James said in a statement. In a video, he called himself “an open-minded, free-thinking conservative.”
Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens currently represent parts of the seat, but they are seeking to represent a new, Democratic district in Oakland County.
The 40-year-old James, a top GOP recruit whom some Republicans encouraged to run for governor, joins a primary that also includes Birmingham lawyer Eric Esshaki, who raised $423,000 last quarter after narrowly being defeated by Stevens in 2020. Neither James nor Esshaki lives in the new seat. Residency, while not a legal requirement, is politically beneficial.
James was twice the GOP nominee to challenge incumbent Democratic senators, losing by about 1.7 percentage points to Gary Peters in 2020.
The West Point graduate flew Apache helicopters in combat and led two platoons during the Iraq War. After being honorably discharged, he joined his father’s Detroit-based group of companies, James Group International Inc. He is CEO of Renaissance Global Logistics, which ships supplier parts to auto factories.
If elected, James would be Michigan’s first Black Republican member of Congress.
While the new seat is rated as leaning or likely GOP by national political newsletters, Democrats noted that James twice lost the area that now includes the district when he ran for Senate in 2018 and 2020.
“MI-10 voters already rejected failed candidate John James twice, and a third disastrous candidacy will end no differently,” said Elena Kuhn, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Democrats continue recruiting. Candidates so far include activist Huwaida Arraf and Angela Rogensues, a Warren city council member.
The seat is among four of 13 House districts that are considered competitive and not solidly Republican nor Democratic.
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