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(Photo credit: John James for Congress)

Two years after barely winning an open seat in the U.S. House, Michigan Republican John James is set to face a tough run for reelection in 2024. Six Democratic candidates are vying for the nomination to challenge him, and they present a stark contrast to James on key policy issues.

After losing U.S. Senate races in 2018 and 2020, James defeated Democratic nominee Carl Marlinga in 2022 48.8%-48.3% in Michigan’s 10th Congressional District. The district includes northern Detroit suburbs.

Marlinga and five other Democratic candidates have announced they will seek to challenge James next year. 

Rep. John James

James has no issues page on his campaign website. He previously opposed reproductive rights even in cases of rape and incest and once likened abortion to genocide, but his campaign told the Detroit News in September that he now supports exceptions. James has received a zero rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, indicating consistent opposition to reproductive rights. 

According to the National Rifle Association’s 2020 Senate endorsement, James supports weakening state gun laws, opposes universal background checks, and opposes limits on buying semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The NRA and its super PAC have spent more than $500,000 in support of his campaigns since 2018.

James told the Christian Coalition in 2020 that he backs making the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans included in President Donald Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent. 

Emily Busch

Busch, the mother of a survivor of the 2021 school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, is an advocate against gun violence.

In a section of her campaign issues page called “Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough,” she notes her commitment to “common-sense gun safety legislation.”

She promises to be “a steadfast voice to protect abortion rights.” 

A spokesperson said in an email, “Emily believes we need tax policy that puts working families and small businesses first, makes sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, and protects Social Security and Medicare.”

Anil Kumar

Kumar, a physician, is an elected member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

His campaign website issues page notes, “Dr. Kumar stands resolutely for a woman’s right to make choices about her own body.” 

During an unsuccessful 2014 congressional campaign, Kumar tweeted, “I support the Second Amendment, but we need some reasonable regulations to prevent illegal gun sales and close loopholes.”

A campaign spokesperson said in an email that Kumar opposes making the Trump tax cuts permanent and supports background checks, red flag laws, and limits to sales of semi-automatic weapons.

Carl Marlinga

Marlinga, a former Macomb County prosecutor and state circuit court judge, says on his campaign website issues page, “I believe that government has no business interfering with a woman’s health care choices, including any choice that she may make regarding abortion.”

“In order to combat the scourge of gun violence, I support Ethan’s Law (safe gun storage) and I fully support a ban on high powered semi-automatic weapons with large magazines (commonly known as assault weapons),” Marlinga says.

A spokesperson noted that he opposes extending Trump’s tax cuts and backs gun background checks.

Rhonda Powell

Powell, a nonprofit executive, said in an email, “I fully support reproductive rights and believe in a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.”

“I, along with approximately 85% of Americans, support sensible gun safety legislation,” Powell wrote. “For me this includes universal background checks, red flag laws and limiting access to both high capacity ammunition and weapons of war.”

She said she opposes extending Trump’s tax cuts: “The provisions in this temporary tax cut does little to nothing to improve the economic well-being of our poorest citizens.”

Tiffany Tilley

Tilley is co-vice chair of the Michigan State Board of Education. Her campaign biography notes that after losing both a brother and a cousin to gun violence, she founded a nonprofit to combat the problem.

In a Sept. 21 Facebook post, Tilley wrote, “In Congress, I will fight for common sense gun safety laws that will save lives, affordable health care for every family, and to protect the right to choose.”

A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about her views.

Diane Young

Young, a longtime financial planner, says on her campaign website issues page: “Simply put, women deserve full autonomy over their bodies. Neither government nor politicians have a role in the doctor’s office.”

She endorses “common sense gun safety,” promising, “I will fight to ensure we have universal background checks including red flag laws and closing the gun show and boyfriend loopholes, and a ban on assault weapons.”

She told the Michigan Independent, “The Republicans have been giving crumbs to the middle class and the working poor while they eat the cake, and we need to make significant changes into our tax law that benefit our country, that we tighten up tax loopholes so that the rich are paying their fair share and are investing back into this great country that helped them create their wealth.”

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