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Republican super PAC to spend $9 million in Michigan Senate race

Senate Leadership Fund targets incumbent Gary Peters

Running in a state President Donald Trump won in 2016, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters is a top GOP target this year.
Running in a state President Donald Trump won in 2016, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters is a top GOP target this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Pool file photo)

A Republican super PAC, aligned with the party’s Senate leadership, will infuse $9 million into the Senate race in Michigan where incumbent Democrat Gary Peters faces GOP challenger John James. 

The Senate Leadership Fund is placing the buy Thursday, and the spots will air statewide beginning Saturday on TV and radio. 

SLF President Steven Law called James “an incredibly impressive advocate for Michigan families and jobs who is taking the fight to Peters for leaving Michiganders hanging in a pandemic.”

Though Peters has held the edge in the polls and is favored to win, James, a retired Apache helicopter pilot in the Army, has been a prolific fundraiser. And the race has tightened since the summer. It’s one of the GOP’s two pickup opportunities, along with Doug Jones’ seat in Alabama, in a Senate map that otherwise favors Democrats. 

 Mitch McConnell’s allies are spending over $16 million to prop up James because they want another vote to gut pre-existing conditions coverage, undermine a woman’s right to choose, and obstruct Great Lakes funding,” Peters campaign spokeswoman Vanessa Valdivia said in an email, referring to the Senate majority leader. 

Both the Peters and James campaigns and their allied outside groups have spent heavily in the state, which President Donald Trump won by less than half a point in 2016. The state appears to be Democrat Joe Biden’s to lose this year.

With Jones facing an uphill battle in Alabama, a loss by Peters would make the Democrats’ goal of retaking the Senate even more difficult, needing them to defeat Republican senators in five other states and win the White House to get to a 50-50 chamber in which the vice president would break ties.

Outside groups have already disclosed spending more than $35 million to influence voters in the Senate race.  

One Nation, an outside group affiliated with the Senate Leadership Fund, reserved $4.5 million in airtime for ads in mid-August. 

This is James’ second straight run for Senate. He ran for the state’s other seat in 2018, losing to Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow by a surprisingly narrow 6-point margin.

Peters was first elected to the Senate in 2014 after three terms in the House. His campaign touted his endorsement this week by the Detroit Free Press Editorial Board, which wrote: “Peters has achieved more in his first term than many senators accomplish in their careers, and we enthusiastically support his re-election in November’s general election.”

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