Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson were elected to their state offices in 2018 and began serving in January 2019. The Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board believes the two elected officials’ bodies of accomplishments are worthy of a second term.
Nessel, a former criminal prosecutor and civil rights attorney, is Michigan’s 54th Attorney General (AG). As the state’s top law enforcement official, Nessel was in the national spotlight during the 2020 Presidential Election. The nation saw her as a strong, no-nonsense AG who stopped individuals who attempted to change the rightful election outcome in Michigan by spreading disinformation and “unfounded allegations” of widespread voter fraud at the behest of Donald Trump. Nessel also has been a champion in fighting to protect the environment and Great Lakes by holding those who abuse and pollute accountable.
With strong beliefs that equality for Michigan citizens must be enforced on all levels, Nessel launched special units to advance equal protection under the law. Such launched entities included the first-of-its-kind Hate Crimes Unit, Conviction Integrity Unit, Consumer Protection Division, Elder Abuse Task Force and the Fraud Investigation Unit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nessel aggressively went after scammers and price-gougers attempting to take advantage of Michiganders in a time of crisis.
Earlier this year, Nessel appeared in front of the Michigan Supreme Court to argue that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 in Michigan does not allow discrimination based on race, religion and other protected classes, including people who identify as LGBTQ.
Running against Nessel is Republican Matthew DePerno – a loyal Trump supporter. During the 2020 Presidential Election, he spearheaded failed legal efforts in Michigan to challenge and overturn the election results in favor of Trump. DePerno, with his extreme views on multiple issues including abortion in Michigan, is currently under investigation for his alleged role in a voting-system breach. Libertarian Joe McHugh and U.S. Taxpayers Party’s Gerald T. Van Sickle are also candidates in the AG race. Nevertheless, DePerno, McHugh and Van Sickle, in the Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board’s opinion, are not qualified candidates for the job of AG, unlike Nessel.
“I’ve spent my career defending the rights of Michigan residents, and that’s also reflected in the work I’ve done since being elected Attorney General,” Nessel, the first openly gay person to win a state office in Michigan, said in a released statement. “My determination to fight for equality and fundamental democratic ideals has never been stronger. I promise to always be the tenacious advocate for justice that all Michiganders deserve and stand up to anyone who threatens our hard-won progress.”
Benson, since taking office, has unveiled many policies and initiatives to improve the Secretary of State’s services to the people. She is credited with modernizing the state’s voter registration system to include more accessible pathways to vote in-person and online. In addition, Benson has made it possible for people to do 60 percent of all transactions online, eliminating the need to visit branch offices of the Secretary of State. She added more than 160 self-service locations across Michigan, mostly in grocery stores, to provide convenient services for customers. And if people choose to visit branch offices, Benson has devised and implemented procedures to get people in and out in 20 minutes – or less – on the average.
As a gatekeeper for secure elections and champion for the democracy of all Michiganders, Benson unveiled Advancing the Vote, Protecting Democracy, a legislative agenda that lays out initiatives to ensure equitable access for voters, strengthen Michigan’s elections infrastructure and guarantee the security of elections throughout the state. In 2020, she oversaw the safest and most secure election in Michigan’s history, which turned out a record-breaking 5.5 million voters. And Benson stood tall under the intense scrutiny by Republicans – led by Trump – in failed attempts to prove widespread election fraud swung the election to Joe Biden. Time after time, all attempts to prove nefarious activities took place in Michigan to steal the Presidential Election from Trump have been debunked.
“We’ve made Michigan a national model for free and fair elections,” Benson, the former dean of Wayne State University Law School, said in a statement. “Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or an Independent, my top priority is to protect your vote no matter who you vote for. That means making sure every voice is heard and every valid vote is counted, so our elections continue to be transparent, safe and secure for everyone.”
Benson’s Republican opponent is Kristina Karamo, who is relatively unknown across the state. What is known is Karamo is an educator from Oak Park, who, according to her website, is running for Michigan Secretary of State to fight to make sure that elections are decided by legal votes, not manipulation and corruption. Endorsed by Trump, her views on the 2020 Presidential Election echo much of what the former president “falsely claimed” about why and how he lost the election in Michigan, claims which have been roundly and repeatedly discredited for almost two years.
Three other candidates representing the Green, Libertarian, and U.S. Taxpayers Parties, are on the November ballot. However, very little is known about them.
In conclusion, the Michigan Chronicle Editorial Board believes that Nessel and Benson have the right and best qualifications to serve and empower Michiganders. We believe, based on their first four years as elected state officials, Nessel and Benson, both of whom are pro-choice on abortion rights and ferocious fighters for democracy for all people, have demonstrated that they are deserving of another four years to continue implementing their visions, policies and initiatives on behalf of the people of Michigan.