John James is a Republican running for Senator in Michigan. He has been endorsed by Donald Trump, who called him “spectacular” and raved that James was “a star.” James is a conservative, African American politician and businessman. He is in an extremely close Republican primary with Sandy Pensler, also a businessman.
Pundits say that Trump’s endorsement (on July 27) gave James a significant bump. Ahead of the endorsement, James and Pensler were running about neck and neck. But a poll taken on July 30, a few days after the endorsement, showed that Jones had a sizable lead: suddenly he was pulling at 44 to Pensler’s 30.
Kid Rock has also endorsed James for Senate; you can watch Kid Rock’s endorsement here.
James, 37, graduated from West Point and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a helicopter pilot. He is now married with two young sons and living in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is the president of his family’s business.
1. James Is a Combat Veteran Who Was Decorated Three Times For His Service in Iraq
At the age of 17, James decided that he wanted to join the military. He enrolled at West Point when he was 18, graduating in 2004. After graduation, James became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. He flew Apache helicopters in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2009. He flew for a total of more than 750 hours in Iraq and was decorated with a Combat Action Badge and two Air Medals.
James says that his military experience makes him a valuable candidate, since — as he told the Associated Press — “we need a combat veteran on the floor of the U.S. Senate who’s actually been to combat and understands what it takes to keep America safe because he’s actually done it. Someone who understands national security from a strategical and tactical level as this world becomes a more dangerous place.”
James also said that while serving in Iraq, he became motivated to fight for the people of Michigan, who were suffering in the midst of the 2008 economic recession. He says that he was suddenly struck by the realization that, while he was fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, his own neighbors back home needed help. You can watch him talk about that, and about how his military experience inspired him in an interview on Fox News, here.
2. He Runs His Family’s Multi-Million Dollar Business And Says He’s Added 100 Jobs Since Taking the Helm
John James holds multiple graduate degrees: a Master’s of Supply Chain Management from Penn State University,and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He is the president of his family’s business, James Group International.
In interviews, James refers to the business as a small automobile logistics company, and he talks as if he were just another small business owner, a regular guy. But in fact, the James Group is no mom-and-pop business. It’s a multi-million dollars corporation composed of three businesses that provide logistics and supply chain assistance to Fortune 500 companies. Their clients include Ford, Toyota, and General Motors.
According to James’ estimation, the James Group was worth $35 million when he took over as president after returning from Iraq. Currently, the business brings in about $137 million in revenue. James says he’s added 100 jobs since becoming president of the company.
3. James And His Wife, Elizabeth, Have Two Sons. Elizabeth Is an Advocate for Children’s Rights
James and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Farmington Hills, a suburb of Detroit. They have two young sons: John, age 4 and Hudson, 2.
Elizabeth is on the board of directors of Vista Maria, a non-profit that works with abused women and children. Vista also advocates on behalf of trafficked children, and Elizabeth has done a lot of work advocating on this issue. You can watch her talk about this issue here.
4. James Calls Himself A “Conservative Outsider Who Supports the Trump Agenda.” He Is Anti-Abortion and Pro-Gun, and He Wants Strong Borders
James says that he is a “conservative” who believes in defending “American exceptionalism.” He has spoken out against the “culture of entitlement” and the welfare state. He says he believes in “limited government” and that a “conservative outsider — like himself — is best for the people of Michigan. He describes himself as a “staunch conservative” who believes in God and country and is pro-life and pro-gun.
He believes in the importance of “strong borders” and says he is opposed to sanctuary cities — or, as he calls them, “outlaw cities.” He is a staunch defender of gun rights. He also describes himself as “100 percent pro-life.”
5. James’ Primary Opponent Allegedly Said Trump Talks Like a Fourth Grader And Lies About His Wealth
James is running in the Republican primary against Sandy Pensler. Both James and Pensler now say they support Trump, although neither of them voted for Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. James voted for Ted Cruz; Pensler voted for Marco Rubio.
But a story in the Daily Caller said that Pensler trashed Trump, saying that Trump talks “like a fourth grader” and that he exaggerates his wealth. He also said that — “quite a while ago” — he was selling the Mets baseball team and he wanted to sell it to Trump. Pensler says that Trump couldn’t put together the money he needed to buy the team, and so he had to pass up on the deal.
Pensler has said the remarks were taken “completely” out of context and that he was actually defending the president by complimenting his simple, succinct communication skills.
You can watch Pensler explaining his position on Trump here.