Incumbent Stabenow faces James in U.S. Senate race

John James and Debbie Stabenow

The Nov. 6 election will decide whether incumbent Debbie Stabenow or Republican John James will be the next U.S. Senator for Michigan.

James is focused on defending the U.S. Constitution and dealing with the country’s illegal immigration and border security problems.  

According to his website, the businessman is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-business conservative, and has claimed to "live the American Dream," wanting to protect that dream for future generations.

James and his family reside in Farmington Hills where they are active members of Brightmoor Christian Church in Novi.

James joined the military at 17 and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a ranger-qualified aviation officer.  

After eight years of service, James was honorably discharged and he returned to Michigan to work in the family business — James Group International — eventually becoming its president.  

After coming back to America, James earned a Master of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems from Penn State University and a master's of business administration from the University of Michigan.  

As a previous veteran, James believes Michigan should better prepare returning service members for life outside of the military.  

James advocates for Michigan-made products, keeping jobs in Michigan and protecting the Great Lakes. 

Stabenow is focused on growing a diverse economy and standing up for Michigan families, according to her website. 

Stabenow was born in Gladwin and raised 25 miles away in Clare. Her family volunteered in her community and in the Clare United Methodist Church where she learned the importance of faith, family and hard work.  

Stabenow has lived in Lansing since graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor's and master’s degree.    

Stabenow was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979 to 1990 and to the State Senate from 1991 to 1994. In 1996, she was elected as a U.S. Congresswoman and made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from Michigan to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

As a Senator, Stabenow has worked to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan waterways through a variety of bills, acts and initiatives. The national magazine Outdoor Life awarded Sen. Stabenow its Open Country Award for her work to protect the Great Lakes.  

According to her campaign site, Stabenow believes Michigan needs to be exporting products, not jobs.  

Sen. Stabenow serves as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and has been instrumental in supporting beginning farmers, veterans and urban agriculture. She has also helped make improvements in conservation and rural water infrastructure.  

Stabenow is also interested in the health and other needs of Michigan families, U.S.  military and healthcare.  

Central Michigan Life reached out to each candidate to learn more about their platform.

Central Michigan Life: What are one or two ways you believe the State of Michigan could better protect its lakes? 

James: There are multiple environmental disasters threatening our Great Lakes and not enough leadership from Michigan dealing with the reality of the situation. Asian Carp have been creeping toward Lake Michigan for a decade and if we don’t stop them we face a total ecological disaster. Lake Superior’s lakebed is threatened by industrial pollution and our groundwater faces irreversible contamination. We need strong leadership that utilizes a science-based approach and brings everyone who has a stake in our future to the table.

Stabenow: The first bill I passed as a U.S. Senator was to ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. I authored the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which protects our water and supports critical research like that being done at Central Michigan. I stood up to President Trump when his budget eliminated this funding for our Great Lakes and worked across the aisle to restore every penny. I am leading efforts to address emerging threats from PFAS contamination and passed the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act to take quicker action to stop the spread of Asian carp.

How does the State of Michigan benefit from equality and diversity? 

James: Michigan is lucky to be home to a diverse population of people. My father came to Michigan from the Jim Crow South. He lived directly across the street from Mississippi State University and couldn’t go there because he was black. He refused to accept victimhood and dependency as his destiny so he moved to Michigan to start a business and make a better life for his family. Michigan has a long history of being a home for people across the world seeking a better life. Diverse people and opinions are important to creating an equal platform for everyone to succeed. 

Stabenow: Our diversity makes Michigan and America stronger. Our rich cultural fabric in Michigan makes our state more attractive to young talent, global investments and helps grow our economy. And equality of opportunity is critical to our success as people and as a state as well. These are basic values that improve the quality of life for all Michigan families. 

Do firearms on campus protect or threaten students? And why? 

James: I graduated from High School a month after the Columbine shooting. I was a student at West Point, 50 miles from Manhattan on 9/11 and was part of the first class of officers to take their oath knowing we were going to war. I know what it is like to be threatened while at school. A firearm on campus should only be a threat to those who would seek to do harm to others. The specter of gun violence weighs heavily on all of us, we have to be able to defend ourselves. 

Stabenow: I support common-sense changes to our nation’s gun laws, such as comprehensive background checks, a ban on civilian purchases of military assault weapons and other gun safety measures, stronger school safety and improved mental health and addiction services. I stand with students and families in Michigan and at Central Michigan University who participated in the March for Our Lives to demand meaningful reform of our gun safety laws. I strongly oppose Betsy DeVos's plan to divert funding meant to promote a well-rounded education to arm teachers. 

How does the State of Michigan make higher education more affordable without adversely affecting availability of financial aid and state funding? 

James: Making education more affordable is important to keeping Michigan competitive in the long run. We aren’t just losing opportunities to other countries like China, we are losing opportunities to other states. We need to keep the price of tuition low while also working on the other costs of education like housing, healthcare and access to affordable student loans. 

Stabenow: State cuts to higher education over the last eight years have shifted costs to students and families resulting in outrageous student debt. In Michigan, this debt averages over $30,000 per student. I strongly support greater state investments in higher education to help address this problem. I have authored federal legislation that would allow borrowers to refinance student loans at much lower rates, make the first two years of community college tuition-free, ensure Pell Grants are increased, end extra loan fees, and provide additional assistance to distressed borrowers.