Speaking at a men’s-only event earlier last year, Michigan Republican John James questioned women’s capacity for leadership, alleging that “women want men who have been tested” and that men had a “charge to lead.” James announced another campaign for Senate this morning, his second in consecutive election cycles, this time challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Gary Peters in November of 2020.
“We have an obligation to future generations to make sure that we are operating within the role that we have to lead. And yes that is not politically correct, but men we have a charge to lead and we are failing in that because we are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings,” James said at the Christian Businessmen’s Connection luncheon in Bath, Mich., on May 24, 2018.
James followed his suggestion that women should be excluded from positions of leadership by alleging that women, in fact, prefer to see men serving in leadership roles.
“The fact of the matter is women want men who have been tested. And boys need to be tested. And we are those examples. And so this falls silently on our shoulders to ensure that we are the Christian business leaders and the men that we must have in order to make sure that subsequent generations have the blessings that we have today,” he added.
James at the time was challenging incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow, one of the Senate’s longest-serving women, in November of 2018, a race he ultimately lost by nearly 7 percentage points. In the aftermath of his loss, Republicans in Washington aggressively recruited James to make another run for office in 2020.
When the controversial remarks were first published by the American Ledger in 2018, the James campaign didn’t respond to emailed questions about his statements.
In July of 2018, President Donald Trump endorsed James ahead of the Republican primary, referring to him as a “West Point graduate, businessman and African American leader” and predicting he “will be a star.” Vice President Mike Pence followed with an endorsement as well.