Who Are These People We’re Voting For or Against in November?

Republicans and Democrats nominated statewide nominees for attorney general, secretary of state, and others at conventions this past weekend.


We now know all of our choices for statewide races in November.

This past weekend, Democrats and Republicans both held their state party conventions. Democrats formally nominated Dana Nessel for attorney general and Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state, and they chose their nominees for Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan State University Board of Trustees, among other positions.

Republicans had more at stake going into the conventions with multiple contested campaigns for some of the state’s top elected positions.

In the end, state House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) defeated state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) to be the GOP’s nominee for state attorney general. And Mary Treder Lang defeated Joseph Guzman for the nomination for Michigan secretary of state.

So… who are all of these people?

Michigan Public Radio Network State Capitol Correspondent Cheyna Roth fills us in on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. Roth covered both conventions this past weekend.

Michigan Attorney General

Dana Nessel can be a polarizing figure, says Roth. She’s a civil rights attorney and an activist who represented the Michigan couple whose case went to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationally. She’s also a progressive favorite, having defeated moderate Democrat Pat Miles, a former U.S. attorney, at the party’s endorsement convention in the spring.

“There are things that she is just not afraid to say,” says Roth. “And, you put him up against someone like Tom Leonard, who can tend to be a very measured person but has a history himself of doing things that are not the most popular, it’s going to be very interesting to see the two of them interact” if they end up debating between now and November.

Leonard is currently state House speaker, a Republican from DeWitt, Michigan. He is a fairly conservative member of the House — although he has partnered with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, a Democrat, to try to reform Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law in order to reduce rates. He served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan under former Attorney General Mike Cox and was a prosecutor for Genesee County, where he was assigned to the Special Crimes Division.

Secretary of State

Mary Treder Lang may be the least recognizable name among the major statewide nominees for office this year. The Republican is a certified public accountant (CPA) “and she wants to kind of use those skills to be the next secretary of state,” says Roth. “She follows the Republican platform pretty well.”

Jocelyn Benson has this platform of, you shouldn’t wait more than 30 minutes in line at the secretary of state’s office. Mary Treder Lang is to, ‘respect your time in line,’ but she says that 30 minutes is not a realistic thing to allow people to expect.”

“It’s kind of the classic secretary of state role and ideas between the two candidates where you have Jocelyn Benson, who is running on a platform of trying to open up elections for more people and make it more accessible, whereas Republicans are more focused on voter security and making sure our elections are safe. So, they’re both sort of running on pretty standard party platforms.”

Benson, a Democrat, ran for this job eight years ago. She’s the former dean of Wayne State University’s law school, and is now CEO and executive director of the Ross Initiative in Sports and Equality.

Roth also discusses nominees for Michigan State University Board of Trustees and Michigan Supreme Court. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.