US Senate Race

By Ashourina Slewo and Vanessa Denha Garmo

The pool of candidates running for U.S. Senate is a relatively small one as incumbent U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is unopposed in her primary. However, political newcomers John James and Sandy Pensler are fighting for the opportunity to go head to head with Stabenow in the general election. Without a primary and several decades of political experience, Stabenow’s GOP opponent – whether James or Pensler – will have to be prepared for a challenge.

We posed the following question to each candidate, why should the Chaldean community support you?


Running unopposed in her primary, senior U.S. Senator, Debbie Stabenow is running for U.S. Senate once again. The first woman from Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate, she was first elected in 2000. Stabenow has previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives (1979-1990), State Senate (1991-1994), and U.S. Congress (1996-2000).

In addition to serving as U.S. Senator, she is a member of the Senate Leadership, serving as the Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center. Through this position, Senator Stabenow brings Michigan’s voice to Congress. During her time in office she has focused on bringing jobs back to Michigan, advocated for quality health care and access to comprehensive coverage, and worked to protect the state’s natural resources, including the Great Lakes.

As of print day, June 22, Senator Stabenow has not provided a statement.


John James is a husband, father, businessman and veteran running for U.S. Senate. He is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-business conservative.

James made the decision to serve the country at the young age of 17. After graduating from West Point in 2004, he became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. He went on to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he earned a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals.

After eight years of service, he was honorably discharged and returned to Michigan to work in his family’s business James Group International. Currently serving as president of his family’s business, James has led the company from $35 million to $137 million in revenue while creating 100 additional jobs in Michigan and around the country since 2012.

In addition to his Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, James has earned a Master of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems from Penn State University and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan.

When asked why the Chaldean community should support his candidacy, James cites cultural similarities. “The Chaldean community should support me because we’re very, very close culturally in terms of background,” he explained. “I graduated from Birmingham Brother Rice, I am very strong in my faith, I also understand business and the Chaldean community is very, very strong in business.”

“But also, on a personal level, I spent some time in Iraq and I understand the critical situation Roman Catholic Iraqis are facing.”

Sandy Pensler was born and raised on the west side of Detroit from which he commuted to Grosse Pointe where he attended University Liggett High School. After graduating from University Liggett High School, he attended Yale University where in the span four years he earned a B.A. in Chemical Engineering, a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Economics. Following his time at Yale, Pensler founded his first business importing sweaters. Not long after, he sold the business to help pay for law school. He received his Juris Doctorate from Harvard in 1982.

Before entering the world of business, he served as a clerk in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Patrick Higginbotham. Sandy has worked as both a private investor and financial advisor to some of the largest corporations in America, including: Chrysler, Sprint, Scholastic, Time Warner, etc.

According to Pensler, his experience in the world of business is what makes him the right candidate to represent the Chaldean community.

“Michigan’s Chaldean Community has championed Entrepreneurialism and the Professions. Whether it be your hospitals, clinics, restaurants, construction companies or retailers, the Chaldean Community is an integral part of every aspect of life in Michigan,” he said. “My economic plans as senator will help increase Chaldean and Michigan job creation and economic growth.”