Republican John James is mulling a bid for Michigan’s new 10th Congressional District in 2022 and has not ruled out entering the crowded field of GOP primary candidates vying to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In a Thursday email exchange, senior James adviser Curt Anderson confirmed the Republican politician is “seriously considering” running for the suburban Detroit House seat just approved by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. But Anderson emphasized James is “still considering” a campaign for governor. James lost bids for Senate in 2018 and in 2020, but Anderson said he cultivated broad support among Republican voters in both campaigns, positioning him to dictate his political future.

“James is the most popular Republican in Michigan by a country mile,” said Anderson, a Republican strategist in Washington. “He easily wins any primary for any office, not even close. I believe he will win regardless of whether he runs for Congress or governor.”

Republican insiders in Michigan have for years urged James to run for the House, believing it a better way to launch his political career than an uncertain campaign for statewide office. But James, undeterred, sought the Senate nonetheless. In 2018, a Democratic wave year, James lost to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Last year, James outperformed former President Donald Trump but came up just short against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

Consecutive defeats such as that often leave party insiders and grassroots voters uninterested in a third campaign. But through four years of campaigning, in two difficult elections for Republicans in this perennial Midwestern battleground, James collected admirers across the party who are eager to see him finally break through. To that end, James is being aggressively encouraged to mount a campaign for the House in the new 10th Congressional District anchored in Macomb County.


“There are a whole lot of Republicans in this county ready to roll out the welcome mat for John James,” said Republican strategist Jamie Roe, who lives in Macomb County. James would have to move into the district if he chooses to run for the House.

James, 40, who is black, has a charismatic personality and a resume any politician would envy: Army combat veteran, wealthy businessman, a wife and two young children. In the 2020 election cycle, he raised nearly $50 million for his Senate race and still has $1.6 million in the bank to seed another campaign. Against Peters, James garnered 48.2% of the vote, higher than the 47.8% Trump received against President Joe Biden.

Polling conducted in late November for Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, showed James with a commanding lead in the 10th Congressional District in hypothetical matchups with two incumbent Democrats. James led Rep. Haley Stevens 50% to 41% and topped Rep. Andy Levin 50% to 42%. James’s image registered 45% favorable/33% unfavorable, including 45% favorable among independent voters.

This survey, from the GOP firm Cygnal, is just one poll. But Democrats are clearly seeing similar data. Both Stevens and Levin chose to run for reelection in the new suburban Detroit 11th Congressional District, anchored in Oakland County, opting for a primary against each other rather than a clear shot at James or, presumably, whichever Republican runs in the 10th District if he runs for governor instead.

“Best of luck to any Democrat who dares to run here!” Calvin Moore, a spokesman for Congressional Leadership Fund, said in a press release publicizing the poll.

Not all James supporters are convinced a run for governor is a good idea.


A run for the House, with boundaries set for the next decade, appears practically a sure thing and would finally launch James’s career in office and provide him with a political platform. Despite the Biden rebuke brewing in the midterm elections, defeating Whitmer is no sure thing — if James can get through the GOP gubernatorial primary as easily as Anderson believes he would.

The field of more than a half-dozen candidates has been campaigning hard and angling for Trump’s endorsement for much of this year. They could not necessarily be counted on to back down for James, and a third consecutive defeat could do irreparable harm to his political career, no matter the goodwill he has accrued in the GOP and the innate political skills he possesses.