Benson leads Karamo in cash haul for Michigan secretary of state's race

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson raised more than six times the amount of her main GOP opponent, Kristina Karamo, between October and December, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday. 

Benson, a Detroit Democrat, raised $412,356 between Oct. 21 and Dec. 31 and ended the cycle with $1.4 million in hand. Karamo, an Oak Park Republican, raised $64,099 during the same period and ended it with $133,054 available. 

Benson starts her re-election bid in a better cash position than Republican former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who in 2014 had $525,523 on hand at the same point in the race and. Her unsuccessful challenger, Democrat Godfried Dillard, wouldn't enter the race until August 2014, a few months before the election. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit in this Sept. 24, 2020, file photo.

A Detroit News-WDIV poll in January of 600 likely Michigan voters found Benson had a 14 percentage point lead over Karamo, with 46% saying they'd support Benson and 32% supporting Karamo. The poll between Jan. 3-7 had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points. 

“More and more people are concerned about the future of our democracy and Secretary Benson’s leadership in the fight against the Big Lie has prompted a surge in individual campaign contributions from citizens across Michigan,” said Liz Boyd, Benson's campaign spokeswoman. 

Karamo, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry and state Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, also have announced their intention for the Republican nomination, which will be decided at an April party gathering. 

Berry raised $8,900 in the last quarter of 2021 and ended the year with a balance of $5,473. LaFave reported raising $13,893, with $15,741 on hand. 

Some of Benson's largest contributions came from the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, which contributed $64,350; the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, which chipped in $26,500; and the Michigan Education Association, which gave $20,000. 

She also received money from Leonard Lauder of the Estee Lauder make-up company, who gave $7,150; David Mandel, a writer/director for HBO, who gave $1,000; and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan PAC, which contributed $5,000.

Benson paid about $22,000 in consulting fees to Farough & Associates as well as $12,000 for digital consulting to Anne Lewis Strategies. 

Kristina Karamo

Karamo's biggest contributors were Amelia Zugg of Odessa, Texas, who contributed $2,500; Robert Toal of Bloomfield Hills, who gave $2,000; and the 12th Congressional District Wayne County Republican Committee, which gave $1,500. 

Karamo reported spending $8,475 to rent a venue at the Lafayette Grande Banquet Facility in Pontiac and $13,800 in consulting fees to CB Strategies in East Lansing.