The campaigns of Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and Republican opponent John James have raised more than $14 million each this past quarter, surpassing $70 million combined and making it the most expensive Michigan Senate race in history.
Peters said in a press release earlier this week that he raised $14 million. The James campaign confirmed that it will report raising about $14 million for the latest quarter in filings to the Federal Election Commission that will be officially made public Oct. 15.
Peters, the first-term Democrat incumbent from Bloomfield Township, is facing a serious challenge from James, the Republican businessman from Farmington Hills who is an Iraq War veteran. The contest is a key for Republicans trying to maintain leadership of the Senate and Democrats who want to take control.
In a statement, Peters thanked his financial supporters from across the state.
“As our grassroots campaign continues to break records, it’s clear that Michiganders still want effective leaders who get things done,” he said. “Whether it’s fighting for health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions, putting working families before corporate special interests, or battling to defend our Great Lakes, I’ll continue to focus on delivering results for Michigan.”
The campaign for James, who is running two years after losing to Michigan’s senior U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, argues it has a good shot to unseat Peters and has invested in a flurry of ads to do so. Peters led James 45%-40% in a Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Detroit News-WDIV poll released this week. The Glengariff Group survey had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.
“Through the grace of our Lord and the generosity of our grassroots, we are one of the only Republican campaigns in the country to match our Democratic opponent,” James said in a statement. “Michiganders are hurting and looking for unity, compassion and results, not partisan political parlor games.”
Bill Ballenger, a longtime political pundit who produces the Ballenger Report based in Lansing, said the interest was high in this race nationally given Michigan’s status as a battleground state.
“James obviously has done a tremendous job of raising money for a guy who’s a challenger against an incumbent and raised a record amount,” Ballenger said. “This is going to be the most expensive Senate campaign ever in Michigan in history, no question. He did well in that regard two years ago as a total unknown coming out of nowhere, but he’s really upped the ante and done even better.”
Ballenger said Peters had to raise money because he was “not highly known” in the state.