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Republican files signatures to run in Michigan Senate race, setting up primary battle

Republican files signatures to run in Michigan Senate race, setting up primary battle
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Michigan Republican Bob Carr filed the signatures necessary to run in the Wolverine State’s Senate race, setting up a GOP primary battle.

Carr filed 7,700 signatures with the Michigan secretary of state’s office after a federal judge reduced the number of required petition signatures to 7,500.

Legal battles over Michigan’s petition system are still winding their way through the courts. 

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Carr’s candidacy puts him on a collision course with John James, the Republican Party’s chosen Senate candidate. James has already garnered the endorsement of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and has a hefty campaign bank account.

A former employee for the Office of Economic Development under the Nixon administration and a former Capitol Hill staffer, Carr maintained that his Senate bid would be policy-focused and vowed to avoid a negative campaign effort against James. 

“There’ll never be any getting down in the mud. Never. Zero,” Carr said during an interview with The Hill. “It’s going to be very economically-pointed and health care-pointed.”

Carr, who described himself as a fiscal conservative, said he hopes to make Congress more bipartisan and try to expand the GOP’s appeal should he be elected to the Senate.

“I know that when I get into the Senate, I will do what I can to make it a friendly, likable party,” he said. “I’m interested in the party becoming much more involved across the aisle, and that goes for the Democrats as well. I’m a conciliator.”

Carr will have a herculean task of dispatching James in the Aug. 4 primary. James has the backing of nearly the entire Republican Party and ended the first quarter of 2020 with more than $8.5 million in the bank.

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Carr, meanwhile, has not appeared on a general election ballot since his House campaign in 1996 and is still trying to build his staff. However, he maintained that his 1996 upset victory in the House primary in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District could forecast a win against James later this year. 

“In 1996, I had the whole kitchen sink against me, and they spent over a million dollars,” he said. “Election night, I got 57 percent of the vote, and my opponent got 43 percent of the vote, and the same thing is going to happen this time. People do not like to be told how to vote.”

Carr ultimately lost the general election that year by more than 40 points.

The Michigan Senate seat currently held by Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersOvernight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA State of the race: 'Cancel culture' and polling don't mix MORE (D) is a top target for Republicans who are eager to maintain their control over Congress’s upper chamber and build on momentum from Trump’s surprise win there in 2016.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, says the Senate race leans Democratic. 

James’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.