MICHIGAN
     Nov. 3, 2020 Senate                                      

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+Gary Peters (D) i
2,734,568
49.90%
John James (R)
2,642,233
48.22%
Valerie Willis (USTP) 50,597
0.92%
Marcia Squier (G)
39,217
0.72%
Doug Dern (NLP)
13,093
0.24%
write-ins (2)
12


5,479,720

Active Registered Voters: 7,151,051

Plurality:  92,335 votes (1.68 percentage points)

 MI Secretary of State




Notes:  Michigan was the closest Republicans came to a pick up in 2020, as
John James (R) held freshman U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D) to just under 50 percent of the vote, losing by 92,335 votes (1.68 percentage points).

Peters, from Bloomfield Township, was elected to the Senate in 2014 after serving three terms in the House.  He was not particularly well known or "flashy," emphasizing instead his record as an effective, bipartisan legislator.  James, a businessman from Farmington Hills and former Army helicopter pilot, was the Republican nominee against U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018, losing by 275,660 votes (6.50 percentage points).  He launched his campaign on June 6, 2019 and was seen as a rising star, for example appearing on the cover of the June 1, 2020 issue of National Review magazine ("From Army Aviator to the U.S. Senate?")  Both candidates were unchallenged in the Aug. 4 primaries.

The dynamics of the presidential race and the Senate race were intertwined; in 2016 Trump had narrowly carried Michigan and in 2020 the state was again in play.  A May 2019 NRSC memo "Benefits of a John James Candidacy," obtained by the Washington Post (>), highlighted James' high name ID (67%); the "unique" element of his candidacy "allowing him to overperform the Republican generic vote by +9 points;" and his "current and potential ballot strength in key regions of the state and among key subgroups compared to President Trump’s job approval." 

Democrats sought to tie James to Trump, highlighting his 2018 statement that he supported Trump "2000%," but James said he was "running my own race, being my own man" and asserted a message of bringing prosperity to Michigan.  One interesting facet of James' campaign was his "Nickel Promise," a pledge to donate 5% of all campaign donations to charity. 

After a debate over debates, there was no debate in this race. 
The outcome of the Senate contest was closer than the presidential contest.


President
Senate
Dem.
2,804,040
(50.62)
2,734,568
(49.90)
Rep.
2,649,852
(47.84)
2,642,233
(48.22)
Total
5,539,302
5,479,720
Plurality
154,188 votes
2.78 percentage points
92,335 votes
1.68 percentage points

James resisted conceding.  On Nov. 5 he called for "an investigation to ensure that elections were conducted a transparent, legal and fair manner."  His campaign and the RNC subsequently formed the James Legal Fund to prepare for a possible challenge.  However, on Nov. 24, the day after the state certified results, he conceded.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics this was the eighth most expensive Senate race of the 2020 cycle with total spending of $197.4 million.  Spending by the campaigns themselves was relatively equal: $50.0 million by the Peters campaign and $47.5 million by the James campaign.  The largest outside spending groups were, on the Democratic side, Senate Majority PAC at $34.7 million, and on the Republican side Senate Leadership Fund at $17.5 million, Better Future Michigan Fund at $11.6 million and NRSC at $9.1 million. (>)


Campaign Managers:
Gary Peters  Dan Farough
(Feb. 2019)  President/principal at Farough & Associates in Lansing from Feb. 2014.  Chief of staff (Jan. 2013-Jan. 2014), campaign manager (Jan. 2012-Jan. 2013) and deputy state director (Jan. 2011-Jan. 2012) to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.  Campaign manager on Gary Peters for Congress, Mar-Dec. 2010.  Media director for the Michigan House Democratic Caucus, Feb. 2009-Mar. 2010.  Executive director at Progress Michigan, Feb. 2007-Feb. 2009.  Communications director to the Speaker of the Michigan House, Jan.-Aug. 2007.  Press secretary to Michigan House Democratic Leader Dianne Byrum.  Political director for the Michigan Sierra Club, June 1998-June 2003.  Southeast Michigan director for Clean Water Action, 1996-98.  M.A. in political science from University of Toronto; B.A. in history from Michigan State University.

John James


General Consultant  Stu Sandler



See also:
Marisa Schultz.  "Who is Gary Peters? 7 things to know about the Michigan senator."  Fox News, Nov. 3, 2020.

Leonard N. Fleming.  "No Senate debate in sight as Peters, James fight about debating."  Detroit News, Oct. 19, 2020.

Malachi Barrett.  "Gary Peters and John James offer stark differences in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race."  mlive.com, Sept. 25, 2020.

Malachi Barrett.  "Sen. Gary Peters and John James commit to separate debates in Michigan Senate race."  mlive.com, Aug. 26, 2020.

 John J. Miller.  "John James, the Michigan GOP's Rising Star."  National Review, May 14, 2020 [June 1, 2020 print edition].








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