Democrat beats Trump-backed election denier in key Michigan race

Secretary of state Jocelyn Benson condemns ‘conspiracy theorists and election deniers’ after being re-elected over Kristina Karamo

The Michigan secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, defeated Kristina Karamo and was re-elected to a second term, in a major victory with huge implications for how elections are run in a key 2024 battleground.

Benson’s victory deals a significant blow to election denialism, a growing force in American politics.

“Well, well, well: democracy has prevailed,” Benson said as she took the stage at about midnight after the polls closed on Tuesday to Eye of the Tiger.

“Today Michigan voters showed the world that they will vote for truth over lies, facts over conspiracy theories, real results over empty promises.”

The race was one of several contests around the country for secretary of state – a once obscure office – in which Republicans who sought to overturn the 2020 election results were running to be their state’s top election official. Karamo, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, rose to prominence after falsely claiming she saw fraud as ballots were counted on election night in 2020.

In 2020, she signed on to a lawsuit that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 vote in Michigan. Several of her other far-right views also came to light during the campaign – she called abortion “child sacrifice” and described public schools as “government indoctrination camps”.

Benson, a former law professor, also gained national recognition last year as she defended the election results in Michigan. Trump launched an aggressive campaign in Michigan in 2020 to try to overturn the results of the popular vote, which he lost to Joe Biden by 154,000.

Republican officials at the state and local levels almost refused to certify the vote, nearly plunging the state into post-election chaos. Benson far outraised Karamo during the race.

“It’s certainly a victory in the battle over the future of our democracy that we’ve been fighting now for several years. But our work still won’t be over,” Benson said in an interview Sunday before an event in Pontiac, a city about 40 minutes north-west of Detroit.

Karamo filed a lawsuit in the closing days of the campaign to try and get mail-in ballots thrown out in Detroit, which a judge dismissed and harshly rebuked Karamo for.

“Plaintiffs have raised a false flag of election law violations and corruption concerning Detroit’s procedures for the November 8 election. This court’s ruling takes down that flag,” Judge Timothy Kenny wrote on Monday.

“Plaintiffs’ failure to produce any evidence that the procedures for this November 8 election violate state or federal election law demonizes the Detroit city clerk, her office staff and the 1,200 volunteers working this election. These claims are unjustified, devoid of any evidentiary basis and cannot be allowed to stand.”

In her victory speech, Benson said: “The future of our democracy will continue to face challenges from conspiracy theorists and election deniers who may refuse to acknowledge the true and accurate results of elections here in Michigan and around the country.”


Sam Levine in Detroit

The GuardianTramp

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