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Michigan Sen. Peters faces stiff challenge from GOP's James

FILE - In this combination of 2018 and 2019 file photos are, from left, Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James. Money is abundant in Michigan's competitive U.S. Senate race between Peters and James. A campaign-finance expert projects spending will top a staggering $100 million by Election Day. (AP Photos, File)

By DAVID EGGERT Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — John James is aiming to be the first Michigan Republican to win a U.S. Senate seat in a quarter-century. Sen. Gary Peters is eyeing a second term, which would extend Democrats’ decades-long dominance in the state’s Senate races.

Tuesday’s expensive, heavily contested election also will help shape which party controls the Senate.

Peters, 61, is one of two Democrats running for reelection in a state Donald Trump won in 2016 — a presidential battleground no less and a rare place on the Senate map for Republicans to play offense in 2020. James, a Black businessman and Iraq War veteran, is waging a stiff challenge. But his fate — and Peters’ — is also intertwined with the top-of-the-ticket showdown between the president and Democrat Joe Biden.

If Trump loses Michigan, he’ll need to avoid a blowout for James, 39, to have a shot.

The low-key Peters, a former congressman, state senator, lottery commissioner and investment adviser, has emphasized his bipartisanship and ranking as an effective senator, saying more of his bills were signed into law by Trump than any other Senate Democrat. He has also criticized James’ opposition to the federal health care overhaul and noted James backed Trump “2,000%” during his first campaign — a 2018 loss to Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

The dynamic James, who would become Michigan’s first African American senator, has highlighted his leadership of his family’s automotive logistics company in Detroit and his service in combat after graduating from West Point. His campaign has given 5% of donations to charity.

He has called Peters a “do-nothing” career politician and questioned his bipartisan credentials, noting he voted against confirming all three of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.

Republicans have taken just one of Michigan’s last 15 Senate races, in 1994, when Spencer Abraham won an open seat.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.