The Latest: University regent to lead Whitmer transition
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the midterm election in Michigan (all times local):
Democratic Gov.-elect Grechen Whitmer has named a University of Michigan regent to lead her transition to taking the state’s top job.
Mark Bernstein is president and managing partner of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm. Others who will assist him with daily transition operations like identifying people to join Whitmer’s administration include Awenate Cobbina, an executive with the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment; JoAnne Hulls, a former aide to Sen. Debbie Stabenow who works for a Detroit real estate company; longtime Whitmer adviser Mark Burton; and Steve Liedel, who was former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s legal counsel.
Whitmer also announced honorary transition committee members Wednesday. They include Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped expose Flint’s water crisis; ex-Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, retired Ford Motor executive Allan Gilmour; ex-Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz; and others.
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kurtis Wilder has acknowledged defeat and congratulated challenger Megan Cavanagh.
Wilder called Cavanagh to congratulate her Wednesday. There were six candidates seeking two seats on the Supreme Court.
With 95 percent of ballots counted, Justice Elizabeth Clement (Kla-MENT’) was in first place. Cavanagh, a lawyer in private practice, was ahead of Wilder for the second spot.
Cavanagh’s father, Michael Cavanagh, was a Supreme Court justice until retiring in 2015. She says they both “teared up” when they realized that she had won.
Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Wilder to a court vacancy in 2017. Wilder says he’s disappointed but “accepts the will of the voters.” Justices nominated by the Republican Party will now hold a 4-3 majority on the court.
Incumbent Andrea Fischer Newman has conceded in a close University of Michigan Regent race.
Newman thanked voters Wednesday via a social media post for 24 years on the board. She first was elected in 1994.
Michigan’s Secretary of State Elections website showed Fischer and fellow incumbent Republican Andrew Richner holding slim leads Wednesday afternoon over Democrats Jordan Acker and Paul Brown with votes uncounted from one final precinct.
Five Democrats currently sit on the eight-member board at the Ann Arbor school.
Democrats Brianna Scott and Kelly Tebay also appear to have won the two open seats on Michigan State University’s eight-member trustee board. Votes from one precinct also remain uncounted. Michigan State University’s board currently has four Democrats and four Republicans.
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement (Kla-MENT’) is leading a six-candidate field for two seats on the state’s highest court.
Nearly 95 percent of votes have been counted. The top two finishers get black robes.
Justice Kurtis Wilder and appellate lawyer Megan Cavanagh are battling for the second spot. Cavanagh, a Democrat, is the daughter of former Justice Michael Cavanagh.
With Clement and Wilder, Republicans have a 5-2 majority on the Supreme Court, though candidates aren’t identified by party on the ballot. University of Michigan law professor Sam Bagenstos was far behind in fourth place and threw in the towel — literally.
After a long campaign, he says it’s time for him to do some “deferred laundry.”
Former CIA analyst Elissa Slotkin has defeated Republican Rep. Mike Bishop, denying him a third House term representing their southeastern Michigan district and flipping the seat to the Democrats.
Slotkin, who worked as a CIA analyst under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and who advocates for public service, said that if she was elected Tuesday, she would push for affordable health care.
Both parties spent heavily on the race, with Democrats sensing that the typically reliable Republican district was vulnerable.
Two others also ran: Libertarian Party candidate Brian Ellison and U.S. Taxpayers Party candidate David Lillis.
Republican Tom Leonard has conceded the race to be Michigan’s next attorney general to Democrat Dana Nessel.
Nessel is an attorney whose biggest case was representing a lesbian couple in a lawsuit that overturned the state’s gay marriage ban. She also was an assistant prosecutor in Wayne County.
The Associated Press has not called the race. Nessel was leading by less than 2 percentage points with 96 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday.
Nessel took aggressive positions during the campaign, pledging to replace Todd Flood as the special prosecutor looking into the Flint water crisis. She also said that if she’s elected, the attorney general’s office wouldn’t defend laws that she believes are discriminatory or unconstitutional.
Jennifer Granholm was Michigan’s first female attorney general, serving in the role from 1999 until 2003.
Democrat Jocelyn Benson has won the race to be Michigan’s next secretary of state, defeating Republican Mary Treder Lang and giving the Democrats control of an office they haven’t held since 1994.
Neither candidate in Tuesday’s contest for the role of overseeing Michigan elections has held a statewide office, though Benson unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state in 2010.
Benson is a former dean of Wayne State University’s law school and is an election law expert who serves as CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, which is aimed at improving race relations.
During her campaign, she expressed strong support for a ballot initiative that would expand voting methods and options, calling it a “collection of the best practices” found across the country.
Current office-holder Ruth Johnson is term-limited and couldn’t run again.
Michigan Democrats have seized power in state government again after a long drought and flipped two prized congressional seats thanks to a slate of female candidates who drew strong support from women who voted.
Gretchen Whitmer’s comfortable win over Republican Bill Schuette in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race began a strong night for a female-centric Democratic ticket that also included U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who defeated challenger John James.
Jocelyn Benson was leading her race to become the first Democrat to win the secretary of state’s office in 28 years. Dana Nessel was narrowly ahead in her bid to become the first Democrat elected Michigan attorney general in 20 years.