Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., is projected to win a highly contested reelection campaign over Republican opponent John James to hold onto Michigan’s Senate seat, according to the Associated Press.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Peters thanked Michigan for sending him back to Washington, D.C.

“To all who believed in us, gave your time and effort in our fight: thank you for putting your trust in me,” Peters wrote. “I’m so grateful and energized to keep working to move our state forward.”

As of late October, Peters was consistently ahead of James in the polls, though by a slim lead. The race was also one of the most expensive Senate races in the country this election cycle, with outside political groups driving record spending. Peters was one of two Democratic senators up for reelection in a state Trump won in 2016, putting a target on his back. The race cost nearly $80 million, according to OpenSecrets.

Over the course of the campaign, Peters and James accused each other of being extremists in their respective parties, despite Peters touting a bipartisan record and James promising he would stand up to President Donald Trump if he felt it necessary. 

Early Wednesday, James suggested that he would declare victory in the race, retweeting a misleading tweet from a Republican operative declaring the businessman the winner. 

“Michigan elected it’s first Black Senator,” the Wednesday tweet from Stu Sandler read. “The people have spoken. John James has won this race. The ballots are counted. Stop making up numbers, stalling the process and cheating the system.” 

Sandler’s tweet did not cite any evidence proving that a conclusive tally showed James had won. State officials have also warned voters that counting mail-in ballots could take an extended period of time, but have emphasized that this is a normal part of the process, and not proof of underhanded tactics.

Peters, who regularly emphasizes his moderate approach to legislating, spent most of the campaign criticizing James for his ties to Trump. Peters was one of the last Democratic senators to support the articles of impeachment against Trump, and has tried to occupy a centrist space in politics of the Senate. 

Peters was first elected in 2014, filling a vacant seat in the Senate left by retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. Before that, he served for six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he worked on the Dodd-Frank Conference Committee, which finalized a Wall Street reform bill and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Currently, Donald Trump’s campaign is taking legal action to halt the counting of votes in the state, and the president has sought to cast doubt on the results of the Senate race as well. 

On Wednesday, Trump, who has endorsed James and appeared with him at rallies, tweeted that “It looks like Michigan has now found the ballots necessary to keep a wonderful young man, John James, out of the U.S. Senate. What a terrible thing is happening!”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement Wednesday the MDP is committed to seeing every vote counted and believes the ballot-counting process is complete and transparent.

“Yesterday Michigan held an election with record turnout levels,” the statement read. “It takes a considerable amount of time and volunteer hours to count every single vote … The voters have cast their ballots and they are being meticulously counted and when that process is over, all Michiganders together will find out the results.” 

Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at

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