Michigan Democrats now have a better sense of who will be representing their party on the 2018 statewide ballot.
Thousands of Democrats cast votes over the weekend in the party’s endorsement convention at Cobo Center.
Most notably, the party chose its candidates for attorney general and secretary of state. Those are two jobs the Democrats have not won in Michigan in two decades.
Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with the two women who are now looking to change that in November.
Attorney Dana Nessel got her party’s backing to run for attorney general in November. It was the race to watch over the weekend, as Nessel went head-to-head with former U.S. Attorney Pat Miles. Miles had the strong backing of some large labor unions such as the UAW and the AFL-CIO and party leaders.
But many rank-and-file members as well as progressive groups backing LGBTQ rights and marijuana liberalization flocked to Cobo Center to cast votes for Nessel, and that won the day. Miles has conceded the race, clearing the way for Nessel to appear as the first openly gay statewide candidate to win a party nomination here in Michigan.
“I think I’m going to have a broad appeal that will also include not just some hardcore Democrats but also independents, also, really, some Republicans as well,” Nessel tells Henderson. “Also, I want to get people who have not been involved in electoral politics at all to come out and vote in November, I want to give them a reason to vote.”
Nessel is perhaps best known for her role as an attorney in the Michigan case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court that helped legalize same-sex marriage across the country.
Henderson also speaks with Jocelyn Benson, who won the endorsement of Michigan Democrats at this past weekend’s convention to run for Michigan secretary of state. Benson is the CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and former dean of the Wayne State University Law School.
This will be Benson’s second attempt to win that office. She was the party’s nominee in 2010.
“I now have a proven track record for getting things done,” Benson says in response to a question about why this time will turn out differently than 2010. “As dean of Wayne State Law School, I learned how to oversee and build experience overseeing a public institution in this law school, being able to do more with less, and still improve our position in the rankings.”
Henderson asks both candidates about the prospects of Democrats fielding an all-female statewide ticket of candidates in November, as well as the prospect of an all-white ticket.
“I’m confident that, when it comes to November, we will have a ticket statewide and in districts — legislative and Senate — across the state that is diverse and represents the various different perspectives and people of the state of Michigan,” says Benson.
Michigan Democrats will hold an official nominating convention in August after primaries that will decide who Democrats will choose as their nominee for governor, among other positions.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.