LANSING — Are Democrats thirsty enough to quench a 22-year drought in the Secretary of State Race? That is the question Jocelyn Benson, the lone candidate on the Democratic side hopes to answer this election cycle. Benson, an election law expert who ran for the office in 2010, became the party nominee, only to lose to Ruth Johnson.
Johnson, the Holly Republican, is term-limited and it appears that Benson decided to wait it out in hopes of better luck this election cycle. The general election will not be uncontested, however, with three Republicans seeking the nomination from the party faithful at the Michigan GOP convention that will be held after the August primary election in 2018.
On April 15, the Michigan Democratic Party will hold its convention to endorse a candidate for Attorney General, a candidate for Secretary of State, and candidates for Michigan Supreme Court.
Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum was previously mentioned as a possible candidate, but time is running out and it appears that Benson, who was the first to file may remain the sole Democrat seeking the nomination.
Last September, state Senator Mike Kowall of White Lake Township withdrew from the Secretary of State’s race after more than a year of planning to run for the seat. In early February, Kowall, who is also the Senate Majority Floor Leader, joined a field of a half dozen candidates vying for the Republican nomination to succeed the retiring U.S. Representative Dave Trott, R-Birmingham.
Jocelyn Benson, age 39, from Detroit, is the CEO, of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a nonprofit founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to improve race relations and drive social progress. Benson is also the author of a book about the role secretaries of state play in elections, and she is an attorney and former law school dean at Wayne State University School of Law. Benson is running on a platform that stands for no one should have to wait more than 30 minutes to renew a driver’s license, register a vehicle or vote. Benson said the half-hour guarantee should apply to residents “no matter where you are in the state,” saying she waited two hours to vote in the August 2016 primary election. She launched her campaign outside a secretary of state branch in Detroit and at stops in Grand Rapids and Lansing.
Joseph Guzman, currently lives in Okemos in Ingham County and works as an assistant professor at Michigan State University, former co-chair for President Donald Trump’s Michigan campaign, formed a campaign committee Aug. 25. At a Michigan Trump Republicans event in Lansing Monday evening, Guzman said he has the administrative, financial and management chops for the position.
“Ruth Johnson has done a fine job, and we can’t stand still on the progress that we’ve made,” he said. “We’ve got to ensure the integrity of our voting process, and I think I will do a great job at it.”
If elected, Guzman said he would look closely at every function provided by the Secretary of State and determine ways to improve the office, particularly when it comes to voter integrity.
Stan Grot, age 65 is the Shelby Township Clerk. Grot has worked as a mechanic for General Motors and has owned and operated a restaurant in Hamtramck. He also has worked at the secretary of state and attorney general offices. “When I’m elected Michigan Secretary of State I will put an end to election incompetence and voter fraud,” Grot said in a statement. “As an elected clerk, I’m deeply involved in the election process.
As your former Assistant Secretary of State, I have the knowledge and experience to bring integrity and trust to Michigan’s elections statewide.” Grot also chairs the 10th Congressional District Republican Party. Known for his slogans such as “Your Friendly Neighborhood Clerk,” Grot’s says is newest catchprase is “Stan Has a Plan.”
Mary Treder Lang, age 57, is a certified public accountant, a resident of Grosse Pointe Farms, and a member of the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents. Treder Lang said she would use her three decades of private-sector experience in finance, sales and computer security to secure elections and improve customer service. She has been involved with GOP politics as a precinct delegate, state House candidate and former state committee member.
“I will expand online services, make them more user-friendly and offer service appointments in all offices,” Treder Lang said in a statement.
Gregory Stempfle is also running for secretary of state as a Libertarian. Stempfle is from Ferndale, and is the political director for the Libertarian Party of Michigan. Stempfle filed a waiver saying he wouldn’t raise or spend more than $1,000.