Leonard concedes to Nessel in Michigan AG race; Benson elected secretary of state

LANSING (AP) — Republican Tom Leonard has conceded the race to be Michigan’s next attorney general to Democrat Dana Nessel.

Nessel is an attorney whose biggest case was representing a lesbian couple in a lawsuit that overturned the state’s gay marriage ban. She also was an assistant prosecutor in Wayne County.

The Associated Press has not called the race. Nessel was leading by less than 2 percentage points with 96 percent of precincts reporting today.

Nessel took aggressive positions during the campaign, pledging to replace Todd Flood as the special prosecutor looking into the Flint water crisis. She also said that if she’s elected, the attorney general’s office wouldn’t defend laws that she believes are discriminatory or unconstitutional.

Jennifer Granholm was Michigan’s first female attorney general, serving in the role from 1999 until 2003.

In addition, Democrat Jocelyn Benson has won the race to be Michigan’s next secretary of state, defeating Republican Mary Treder Lang and giving the Democrats control of an office they haven’t held since 1994.

Neither candidate in Tuesday’s contest for the role of overseeing Michigan elections has held a statewide office, though Benson unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state in 2010.

Benson is a former dean of Wayne State University’s law school and is an election law expert who serves as CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, which is aimed at improving race relations.

During her campaign, she expressed strong support for a ballot initiative that would expand voting methods and options, calling it a “collection of the best practices” found across the country.

Current office-holder Ruth Johnson is term-limited and couldn’t run again.