John 'Red, White & Blue' James Is the Future of the GOP

John 'Red, White & Blue' James Is the Future of the GOP
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
John 'Red, White & Blue' James Is the Future of the GOP
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Congressman Will Hurd is the latest Republican to announce his retirement from Congress. This one stung our party more than others because he is the only African American Republican in the House of Representatives -- leaving Sen. Tim Scott as the only African American Republican in Congress.

It is no secret that there is a lack of diverse leadership in the current Republican Party. The good news is, there is not a lack of diverse GOP candidates running in the next election. To be clear, I mean diversity in an all-encompassing way – yes, race and gender, but also diversity of life experience, age, and socio-economic background. Now, we must unite behind and raise up these future leaders. 

This new generation of conservative Republicans lining up to work for a brighter future includes first-time candidate Wesley Hunt, an Army veteran who is African American, running in TX-07; and Rob Jones, a double amputee Marine veteran running in VA-10.

There were also four Republican women who launched campaigns for Congress last week: Sara Hart Weir, KS-03; Genevieve Collins, TX-32; Randi Reed; NV-04; and Beth Parlato, NY-27. Those announcements come following a concerted effort to recruit and support women candidates by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who stood strong when the launch of her E-PAC originally caused some to question the support of women in contested primaries.

One candidate encompasses the American Dream and is capable of leading a movement he has inspired. President Trump has called John James, who would become the second African American Republican in the U.S. Senate today, a “rising star.” James, 38, is running against first-term Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan, a race considered a top pickup opportunity for Republicans in what will again be a key battleground state for the president.  

John James is a West Point graduate who flew Apache attack helicopters in the Iraq War and is now a CEO, husband and dad. James received 1.9 million votes in his first-ever political campaign in 2018. Now with a higher profile, a large, grassroots donor base, and unlikely to face a primary challenge, polls show James only one percentage point behind Peters.

James has lived the American Dream. His father, John Sr., grew up across the street from Mississippi State University and couldn’t go there because he was black. A Vietnam veteran, John Sr. started a trucking company in Detroit that has grown into a multimillion-dollar supply chain logistics company. He is the son of a mason, who was the son of sharecropper, who was the son of a slave.

Only one generation after Jim Crow, John James feels that building upon his ancestors’ legacy by lifting more people up through economic and educational opportunity is his obligation to continuing the American Dream.

"In this country, when you refuse to accept victimhood and dependency as your destiny, great things can happen," James said in a 2018 interview.

His Senate race that year was a shoe-string operation, starting out with no name ID, infrastructure or donors. After putting together an enthusiastic team of “Co-Pilots” -- whose energy fueled his primary victory against a self-funder who spent $5 million on the August primary -- James set his sights on three-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow. With well attended rallies, relatable social media and hard work, James closed a 23-point deficit to just six. He was the largest Republican vote-getter in Michigan in 2018 – after receiving little support from national organizations.

James’ energy, passion and ability to bring people together to accomplish the mission make him the person who can excite, grow, and lead a new, more diverse generation of Republicans. He’s already showing the strength of his movement by raising over $1.5 million in the first three weeks after announcing for the 2020 race.  

“I didn’t come back from war to see this divisiveness or hate. I didn’t fight for Democrats or Republicans, I fought for Americans. I don’t have a black or white message – I have a red, white, and blue message,” James said in a Fox News appearance during his 2018 race. His focus on American values, unity, and self-determination – which resonates with moms like me – is in stark contrast to that of Democrats who use race and gender as the ultimate political dividing tools.

It’s no secret that our party is less “diverse” than it could be. But Republicans are now the exclusive party of the American Dream, a party that believes capitalism is better than socialism, that every person has value, and the ability to succeed if given a fair shot – not just free stuff. A fair shot starts with education and economic opportunity.

John James started his elementary education in Detroit public schools and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from West Point, a master’s from Penn State, an MBA from the University of Michigan and now serves on the board of a successful public charter school in the city, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. He understands educational opportunity.

James Group International, his family company headquartered in southwest Detroit, grew from $37 million a year in revenue to over $135 million a year – adding 100 jobs in just five years under John’s leadership. That is the definition of creating economic opportunity.

The Republican Party’s future – and more importantly, America’s future – will be bright if we rally behind candidates like John James and others who have lived the American Dream, understand service, and the key to long-lasting success: opportunity for all.

Tori Sachs is president of Regina Strategies, a political and PR consulting firm. A Michigan mother of three young daughters, she was the 2018 campaign manager for John James for U.S. Senate.

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