Schuette re-elected as attorney general

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Bill Schuette was re-elected as attorney general after victory over challenger Mark Totten Tuesday.

"I will continue to serve as attorney general as a voice for victims," Schuette said in front of supporters Tuesday evening. "My mission, my calling is service."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette speaks with the media Tuesday night at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Totten conceded the race for the attorney general but said he wasn't done with politics. He said he started more than two years ago with "nothing but a set of beliefs, a vision for what this office could be and the keys to my 2007 Ford Focus."

"Tonight we came up short," Totten told Democrats at a downtown Detroit hotel, calling it a "difficult loss."

Earlier, Trotten said he was "incredibly encouraged" despite the fact "Bill Schuette has all the advantages of incumbency," including being outspent 4 to 1 in the race.

Totten said voters want to see "this office return to its core mission of protecting families from violent and economic crime and protecting our great lakes as well.

Schuette said he feels "terrific" about his chances of re-election and predicts a "resounding victory across the state of Michigan tonight" for the GOP's ticket.

He described the energy around the more than 25 campaign stops over the weekend as "stratospheric" and that the Republican's get out the vote operation is second to none.

"People don't want to go back to yesterday," Schuette said. "They want to go to tomorrow. They want to go forward, not backwards. And that's really the basic decision for voters."

As for his race, he has expected stiff competition but predicts he will outcast Totten. "We finished strong," he said. "My record on human trafficking and DNA evidence boxes and rape kits examined, that has impacted people."

The state attorney general deals with an array of legal issues ranging from crime victim rights to consumer to environmental protections and insurance fraud.

Schuette's camp was relentless in calling Totten dishonest and accused him of exaggerating his role as a former federal prosecutor, saying he spent scant time in the courtroom and in the office of the U.S. attorney's office in west Michigan.

Totten, who worked for about two years as a volunteer attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Grand Rapids, has dismissed Schuette's charges as desperate, saying he has been a divisive attorney general.

Totten said Schuette followed the bidding of the GOP right wing, was out of step in opposing gay marital rights and was not effective in representing the interests of all Michiganians.

Schuette has said he is a voice for victims by helping create a human trafficking commission and defending the pensions of cops and firefighters in Detroit during the city's bankruptcy. He said he will defend the state Constitution without apology despite some federal court rulings that the state Constitution's ban on gay marriage and adoption violates the U.S. Constitution.

Schuette had the cash advantage with just over $1 million to spend in the final days.

Melody Baetens contributed