Michigan Senate race between Peters, James too early to call

Elections

Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James. (AP Photos, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Senate race between incumbent Democrat Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James was too early to call Wednesday morning, with many votes still uncounted.

The contest may shape which party controls the Senate, where the GOP now has the majority.

“It’s pretty clear we’re not going to know the results until sometime tomorrow,” Peters said at an event in Pontiac on Tuesday night. “A number of jurisdictions are still processing this massive amount of absentee ballots. … Stay tuned.”

Addressing supporters gathered at his business in Detroit, James said: “There’s still a lot of votes to be counted to be sure. But we’re extremely excited and optimistic about where we stand right now.”

Peters, 61, is one of two Democrats running for reelection in a state Donald Trump won in 2016 — a presidential battleground no less and a rare place on the Senate map for Republicans to play offense in 2020. James, a Black businessman and Iraq War veteran, is waging a stiff challenge as he aims to become the first Michigan Republican to win a U.S. Senate seat in a quarter-century. But his fate — and Peters’ — is also intertwined with the top-of-the-ticket showdown between the president and Democrat Joe Biden.

If Trump loses Michigan, he will need to avoid a blowout for James, 39, to have a shot.

The non-flashy Peters, a former congressman, state senator, lottery commissioner and investment adviser, has emphasized his bipartisanship and ranking as an effective senator, saying more of his bills were signed into law by Trump than any other Senate Democrat. He has also criticized James’ opposition to the federal health care overhaul and noted James backed Trump “2,000%” during his first campaign — a 2018 loss to Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

The dynamic James, who would become Michigan’s first African American senator, has highlighted his leadership of his family’s automotive logistics company in Detroit and his service in combat after graduating from West Point. His campaign has given 5% of donations to charity.

He has called Peters a “do-nothing” career politician and questioned his bipartisan credentials, noting he voted against confirming all three of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.

Republicans have taken just one of Michigan’s last 15 Senate races, in 1994, when Spencer Abraham won an open seat.

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