Benson defeats Treder Lang for Michigan secretary of state

Michigan Secretary of State candidates Jocelyn Benson, (D), left, and Mary Treder Lang (R).

Democratic candidate Jocelyn Benson has won over Republican opponent Mary Treder Lang in the race to be the next Michigan secretary of state, according to Associated Press projections. 

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Benson was leading 52.5 percent to Treder Lang's 44.3 percent. Libertarian Gregory Scott Stemple trailed with 2.0 percent of the vote, while U.S. Taxpayers candidate Robert Gale had 1.2 percent.

The next secretary of state will replace outgoing Republican Ruth Johnson, who is term-limited and running for state Senate. Johnson was leading in that race with 56.4 percent of the vote.

“I’m ready to get to work and excited for a smooth transition with Secretary Johnson,” Benson told The Detroit News late Tuesday. 

A Senate Republican power play proposal to shift campaign oversight from Democratic Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson to a new political commission is poised to die in the Michigan House.

Benson, the 40-year-old former dean of the Wayne State Law School who lives in Detroit, campaigned on a 30-minute guarantee, promising to get residents in and out of the Secretary of State office in less than a half hour. This is Benson's second time running for the position, which she lost to Johnson in 2010.

Treder Lang, a 58-year-old Grosse Pointe Farms accountant, campaigned on a pledge to increase online options for Secretary of State customers so no resident would have to come in more than once every eight years. Treder Lang was lagging in the polls behind Benson throughout the run-up to Tuesday's election.

Treder Lang has touted her career experience as a boon in securing Michigan’s trove of digital information on residents and voters. Benson taught election law at Wayne State University and wrote a book on the role of the secretary of state in 2010, titled “State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process.”

Both candidates said they support the state’s participation in the multi-state Elections Registration Information Center, a nonprofit that syncs state voter information and alerts states to voters who may have moved, died or have duplicate registrations.

The next secretary of state could be tasked with administering newly approved proposals that would create a citizens redistricting commission and expand voters rights, including same day registration.

Treder Lang opposes same-day voter registration, one of the key changes in Proposal 3, while Benson views it as an expansion of voting rights and participation.

Benson backs the redistricting commission in Proposal 2, arguing it is a fairer way to draw political boundaries, while Treder Lang contends it’s a flawed plan in which consultants would do more to draw the lines and determine political fates than an appointed commission of 13 political neophytes.

Benson has led Treder Lang in all three Detroit News-WDIV polls of 600 likely Michigan voters. But the surveys are a snapshot in time and don't predict the eventual outcome of the election.

Benson has secured an endorsement from former state elections director Chris Thomas, while former Republican secretaries of state Candice Miller and Terri Lynn Land back Treder Lang. As of mid-September, Benson had raised more than $1.1 million, while Treder Lang had raised nearly $320,000.