Leonard outraises Nessel in latest report in AG race; Nessel has more cash on hand

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican attorney general candidate Tom Leonard raised more in the last quarter of 2021 than Democratic incumbent Attorney General Dana Nessel, but Nessel ended the year with more cash on hand, according to Monday campaign finance filings. 

Leonard, a former House speaker, reported raising $283,481 from Oct. 21 through Dec. 31, with $665,968 on hand; Nessel reported raising $277,954 during the same time period and has nearly $1.6 million on hand.  

Trump-endorsed candidate Matthew DePerno had not yet filed his campaign finance report as of 6 p.m. Monday.

State Rep. Ryan Berman reported raising about $100,705 in the last quarter of 2021 and having about $279,000 on hand. About $25,000 of Berman's last quarter total came from Berman's statehouse campaign account.

Michigan Attorney General candidates: Democtratic incumbernt Dana Nessel and Republican challenger Tom Leonard

By comparison, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette had about $1.4 million on hand for his 2014 re-election campaign at this same point in the election cycle. His unsuccessful challenger Mark Totten had about $128,411 on hand. 

"Supporters see what a strong job (Attorney) General Nessel is doing and are putting their money with a winner," said Kimberly Bush, a spokeswoman for Nessel's campaign. "Dana is in a commanding position against whatever extremist the Republicans nominate to run against her."

Leonard's campaign touted the numbers as proof that Nessel is the "most vulnerable Democrat" on the 2022 ticket. 

“Our campaign has been met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm from day one, and I am excited to continue building this team and gathering support over the coming months," Leonard said in a statement.  

Nessel led her Republican challengers in a recent poll of 600 likely Michigan voters commissioned by The Detroit News-WDIV

The head-to-head poll Jan. 3-7 found Nessel led Leonard 42% to 36%, with 22% undecided. She led DePerno 44% to 34% in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points. 

Nessel's largest contributors include the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan PAC, which gave her $20,000; the Michigan Education Association, which contributed $20,000; and Rock Holdings Inc. State PAC, which gave her $10,000.

Nessel reported paying more than $40,000 to Dykema Gossett for consulting services as well as $30,000 for consulting to Two Rivers Public Affairs, whose principal, Jeff Timmer, is a senior advisor to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and Republicans and Independents for Biden. 

Leonard reported contributing about $60,000 of his own money to his campaign. He also reported about $32,000 from his political action committee the Michigan Values Leadership Fund II PAC as well as $10,000 from state Rep. Thomas Albert's PAC, Albert Majority Fund PAC. 

His expenses include about $5,400 in consulting fees to Templar Baker Group and about $7,500 in consulting fees to Turnberry Group.