Check out the website: https://lenspoliticalnotes.com Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.
Governor: Political Note #421 Chris Jones Arkansas, Political Note #402 Katie Hobbs Arizona, Political Note #432 Stacey Abrams Georgia, Political Note #358 Laura Kelly Kansas, Political Note #407 Janet Mills Maine, Political Note #381 Gretchen Whitmer Michigan, Political Note # 414 Steve Sisolak Nevada, Political Note #366, Beto O’Rourke Texas, Tony Evers Wisconsin Governor.
Attorney General: Political Note #425 Chris Mann Kansas, Political Note #415 Dana Nessel Michigan, Political Note #360 Aaron Ford Nevada, Political Note #367 Josh Kaul Wisconsin
Secretary of State: Political Note #409 Bee Nguyen Georgia, Political Note #435 Jocelyn Benson Michigan
December 27th , 2021 Political Note #435 Jocelyn Benson MI Sec’y of State
2022 General Election
Ballotpedia tells us that 47 of the 50 states have Secretaries of State. It goes on to say “The duties of the position are generally administrative in nature…. The officeholder also often serves as the chief election official in their state, administering state elections and maintaining official election results.”
Although Secretaries of State are elected in partisan elections, the position used to be seen as the least partisan role in state government. Oversight of elections was as much an administrative duty as keeping business records. Disputes about the registration of voters and the false claim that ex President Donald Trump won the 2020 election has made oversight of elections partisan. We need to look more carefully at the candidates for Secretary of State – especially in those states where there could be a dispute about the next election.
Jocelyn Benson’s https://votebenson.com race for reelection is a great example of a contest between a candidate representative of the Democratic Party and a candidate representative of the Republican Party. Democrat Jocelyn Benson is an achiever, a 44 year-old who has achieved a lot and can be expected to achieve more. In 2010, she wrote State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process as she prepared a run to become Michigan’s Secretary of State. She didn’t win that election, but you could be confident that she knew what a Secretary of State was supposed to do. That was true in 2010 and true again in 2018 when she did get elected.
Jocelyn Benson grew up in Pittsburgh, the daughter of two special education teachers. While she was in high school, she worked in a Blockbuster video store, so she knows that some things become obsolete. After high school, she went to Wellesley, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude majoring in political science. Affected by the mixed reaction to the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial, she added an African Studies minor. As a sophomore she was elected as a delegate to the Town of Wellesley’s representative town meeting. As a junior she founded the Women in American Political Activism Conference bringing 300 participants to Wellesley. While still a student at Wellesley she wrote a chapter of a book about Congressional elections. Her chapter was about a Congressional race in California. She did an internship with the Southern Poverty Law Center and worked for them after graduating, before leaving for Oxford University to take advantage of the Marshall Fellowship she had been awarded.
Jocelyn Benson studied race relations at Oxford. She returned to the States to study law at Harvard. She went on to teach law at Wayne State University’s Law School in Detroit while also clerking for Sixth Circuit Judge Damon Jerome Keith, formerly a civil rights attorney and Co-Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. While teaching, she became Associate Director of the Damon Jerome Keith Center for Civil Rights. In that role, she created the Michigan Allies Project to track hate incidents and to provide legal support for victims.
In 2006, Jocelyn Benson married Ryan Friedrichs, a distance runner who had become the executive director of an effort to increase civic engagement. Subsequently, he saw combat in Afghanistan as a squad leader of a parachute infantry company, and returned to Michigan to serve as the Chief Development Officer for the City of Detroit.
In 2012, at age 35, Jocelyn Benson was appointed Dean of the Wayne State University Law School. She brought national attention to the Law School as she expanded experiential learning for students, and, among other initiatives, created a program on entrepreneurship and business ownership. She served on a civics education board with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She created the support network Military Spouses of Michigan, and led a sports initiative to encourage athletes to lead their fans to become more engaged in civic life. In 2018, she was a great candidate for Secretary of State and was elected by 53-44.
Now Jocelyn Benson is a target of the Republicans. Donald Trump has picked Kristina Karamo as his favorite among the three Republicans seeking their nomination as Secretary of State. Karamo has falsely claimed that Trump won the 2020 election in Michigan. A witness to ballot counting at the TCF Center in Detroit, she claims to have seen absentee ballots processed improperly. She visited Arizona to witness the circus of a vote audit there. She has spoken at a QAnon Conference. A college orientation instructor at Wayne County Community College, she has a BA in communication and media and a Master’s Degree in Christian Apologetics from Oakland University. She is a member of the Republican State Committee and has served as a member of the Black leadership committee with Right to Life, a group opposed to abortions. Michigan Live reported at the end of October that she led the Republicans in fundraising with $100,000 while Incumbent Jocelyn Benson had raised $450,000.
These are not big numbers for a state-wide campaign in Michigan. It would not take much national organizing for Karamo to raise enough to be a real challenge to Jocelyn Benson. Complacency kills campaigns. Make a donation to Jocelyn Benson https://votebenson.com . Do not allow her opponent to develop any kind of momentum. We cannot have someone who buys into Donald Trump’s Big Lie oversee Michigan’s election in 2024.
One more thing
Republicans control the gerrymandered Michigan State Senate 20-16 with two vacancies and the Michigan House of Representatives 58-52. Redistricting of Michigan’s representation in Congress as well as the Michigan State Senate and House of Representatives are in the hands of an Independent Redistricting Commission. The members of the Commission were selected by lottery from those who applied with the following restriction – 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 5 not registered in any party. It may be possible to identify particular Democrats to support in order to have an impact on the state legislature’s numbers. Until then, consider giving to the Michigan Democratic Party.
Incumbents to defend for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State
Kansas Gov Laura Kelly (Toss up) https://www.laurakellyforkansas.com
Maine Gov Janet Mills (Likely D) https://www.janetmills.com/
Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer (Lean D) https://www.gretchenwhitmer.com
Michigan AG Dana Nessel https://www.dananessel.com
Michigan SofS Jocelyn Benson https://votebenson.com
Minnesota Gov Tim Walz (Likely D) https://walzflanagan.org
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison https://keithellison.org
Minnesota SofS Steve Simon https://stevesimonmn.com
Nevada Gov Steve Sisolak (Likely D) https://stevesisolak.com
Nevada AG Aaron Ford https://www.fordfornevada.com
Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro https://joshshapiro.org (Open Democratic seat)
Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers (Lean D) https://tonyevers.com
Wisconsin AG Josh Kaul https://www.joshkaul.org
Wisconsin SofS Doug LaFollette https://www.facebook.com/sosdoug
Democrats who can flip Republican Governors or other state officers
Arizona Gov Secretary of State Katie Hobbs https://www.katiehobbs.org (Toss up)
Arkansas Gov African American Nuclear Engineer Chris Jones https://chrisforgovernor.com (Safe R says Cook)
Georgia Gov Ex State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (Lean R) https://staceyabrams.com
Georgia SofS State Rep Bee Nguyen https://www.beeforgeorgia.com
Kansas AG Chris Mann https://www.chrismannforkansas.com
Maryland AG. Congressman Anthony Brown. https://www.anthonybrown.com (Open Dem Seat)
Nevada SofS Cisco Aguilar http://www.cisconv.co
Texas Ex Congressman Beto O’Rourke https://betoorourke.com
In some states, we don’t know who the Democratic nominee will be
Florida Gov Ex Gov and Rep Charlie Crist, Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried, and State Sen Annette Taddeo are the principal competitors for the Democratic nomination (Lean R)
Ohio Gov Mayors John Cranley and Nan Whaley have announced for this seat where the Republican governor is facing a primary challenge (Likely R)
Maryland Gov I count eight candidates so far for this formerly Republican open seat (Lean D)
Organizations to support
The Democratic National Committee (DNC). https://democrats.org
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) https://www.dscc.org
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) https://dccc.org
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) https://democraticgovernors.org
The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) https://dems.ag
The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS) https://demsofstate.org
The Democratic (State) Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) https://dlcc.org
Fair Fight https://fairfight.com Stacey Abrams organization to support fair elections
Three Cautions while donating through Act Blue (most Democratic candidates use Act Blue for online donations)
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Support Democrats. Sadly, Republicans have become enemies of democracy. Jocelyn Benson’s probable opponent is a perfect example of this unfortunate circumstance.