John James concedes, congratulates U.S. Sen. Gary Peters

Republican John James conceded Tuesday night, congratulating U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and saying there was Scotch whisky “coming” the Democrat’s way.

“Michigan, the 2020 battle for this Senate seat is over, but the battle for the future of this great country will never be over, and I will never retire from that battlefield, ever, and neither should you,” said James, a military veteran.

“There are too many people hurting,” he added. “There is too much work to do. There is too much left to give.”

Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, defeated James 50%-48% or by more than 92,000 votes. The Farmington Hills businessman lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing by 6.5 percentage points in 2018.

John James

Peters declared victory two days after the election, but James refused to concede and called for an investigation into what his campaign initially called cheating in the balloting process.

On Tuesday night, a day after the Board of State Canvassers certified Michigan’s results and three weeks after Election Day, James changed course and congratulated Peters. 

“Senator, you may not remember this, but you and I shared a scotch at a Pistons game a few years back. So, in the spirit of the holidays, Senator, there’s a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label coming your way soon.

“Congratulations, sir. I wish you and your family good health and safety this season and in the New Year.”

At a meeting of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers earlier in the month, James’ attorney, Charlie Spies, said he had “very serious concerns” about the way the election was administered in the Democratic-dominated county, but he didn’t provide specific evidence to back up his comments.

At a Monday meeting of the Board of State Canvassers, Spies told board members that they had the power to order an audit, citing a Michigan law that says the board can “ascertain and determine the result of an election.”

The James campaign urged the board to take an additional two weeks to audit the election results by Dec. 7 before voting to certify. But the board voted 3-0 — with an abstention from Republican Norm Shinkle — to certify the Nov. 3 election results.

On Tuesday, James said he was happy Shinkle pushed for the board to ask the Legislature to review state election procedures.

“But it’s too late for me,” James said. “While I look forward to participating in efforts to secure both reasonable franchise and integrity in our election in the near future, today is the right time for me to congratulate Senator Gary Peters.”

Laura Cox, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, said James had run “an extraordinarily hard-fought campaign.”

“John has cemented himself as an all-star in the Republican Party, and I know I speak for all Republicans when I say we cannot wait to see what’s next for John James,” Cox said.

lfleming@detroitnews.com

cmauger@detroitnews.com