Stabenow wins re-election; James concedes, looks to future
With the stage full of music and the main floor riddled with people dancing, attendees of the statewide Democratic watch party in Detroit celebrated reports of Debbie Stabenow being re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
Screams of excitement floated to the upper level of the room as confetti streamed down. Soon Sen. Stabenow took the stage, backed by a crowd.
She thanked the audience after they stopped cheering her name and said she was honored to continue acting as a U.S. senator. She thanked her entourage backing her in her 52 percent win.
“On stage are people that care deeply about public service, we care deeply about moving Michigan forward and I cannot think of a better way to do that than working with Governor Gretchen Whitmer,” Stabenow said.
The gubernatorial race was called earlier in the night with Whitmer and her running mate, Garlin Gilchrist II, pulling ahead of Republican candidate Bill Schuette 53.1 percent to 44 percent.
Stabenow, first elected to the Senate in 2000, is Michigan’s first female senator. She will serve her fourth consecutive term.
“I have to say we did it in Detroit,” Stabenow said, acknowledging Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.
“The coalition for all of us has been about bringing people together. Working men and women, business people, environmental community, women’s community, religious community, agricultural leaders, that’s how you get things done.”
Shortly after the race was called, Stabenow’s challenger, Republican John James, took the stage at his family business in Detroit to address tearful supporters who had watched results trickle in for several hours.
He conceded the race to Stabenow, but he also addressed the future, seemingly leaving the door open to run for office again.
“A passion for service doesn’t end with a poll, it doesn’t end with a vote; it ends in the grave. My priority is making investments in things that no one can take away from you,” James said. “We recognize we have to love everyone and work with anyone to serve every one. That’s what we have the charge to do.”
After his speech, James left the stage and mingled with supporters for several minutes, doling out hugs, consolations and gratitude.
One supporter encouraged him to run for president in 2020, which he said was “crazy talk.” Another told him the defeat was only a two-year delay, suggesting he run against U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in 2020, which James seemed uninterested in. He pointed out he had been running this campaign for over a year.
Former Michigan Senator Carl Levin and his brother, Sander Levin — who represented Michigan’s 9th congressional district — stood beside Stabenow. Andy Levin, son of Sander, was also on stage.
The attorney general race had not been called yet, but Stabenow said she was counting on Dana Nessel to pull ahead. Nessel won the race.
Stabenow celebrated the poll results for Democrats, as the U.S. House of Representatives will now have a Democratic majority, and vowed to start the next day working her heart out for the people of Michigan.
“We know how tough these times are. I suit up and go to Washington to fight for you. I go in on Monday and I come back at the end of the week and I look for every opportunity to be able to work across the aisle to get things done when we can,” Stabenow said. “When we have folks that want to threaten Michigan and our families, I’ll stand up and fight them every single time.”