The attorney general’s race is the closest on the ballot this November with unique circumstances as it puts incumbent Dana Nessel up against Republican Matt DePerno, a lawyer from the west side of the state.
While Nessel is a lightning rod for criticism, DePerno is under investigation for potential criminal charges. Both are vying to be the lawyer for the state of Michigan. So far, the ads are ugly, and the race is close.
Nessel representing the Democratic party, has been the attorney general for the last four years, and DePerno, an attorney from Kalamazoo, came into the national spotlight for trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
Their positions couldn’t be further apart from abortions to Line 5.
“Even if Prop 3 passes, we’re going to need an attorney general that’s aggressive and strong in defending Proposition 3, like my opponent’s not going to do that, but I will,” said Nessel.
Nessel, who has made her first term about consumer protections, clergy abuse investigations, and occasionally letting her opinions fly on social media, has a record to tout and defend.
“I personally argued the case of Rouch World v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and because of that case, no one in the state of Michigan can be fired for being gay or bisexual or transgender,” Nessel said.
Christy McDonald: “You do have some critics over the last four years, specifically not getting convictions in the Flint water case.”
Nessel: “I assigned some of the best prosecutors I know, including prosecutor Kym Worthy, and restarted the investigation and used a grand jury procedure. Ultimately, of course, that was appealed to the courts.”
DePerno wasted no time accusing Nessel of abusing her office, saying she’s soft on crime and seizing on a comment Nessel made that she says was in jest.
DePerno: “And you have an attorney general in this state, Dana Nessel who says she wants to put a drag queen in every school, and you’re allowing it to happen.”
But DePerno’s candidacy is currently clouded with allegations of misconduct at the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. He’s also the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into potential charges of tampering with voting equipment.
Nessel has requested a special prosecutor to look into that. DePerno denies the misconduct. He instead, according to his campaign, pledges to defend Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban and protect parents’ ability to have a say in curriculum.
“The fundamental rights of the parents is a huge issue right now in this country and across the state,” DePerno said.
The latest Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the race within one point. Nessel’s 44% to DePerno’s 43%, making this last weekend of campaigning for both candidates critical.
Local 4 requested sit-down, in-depth interviews with both candidates so they could answer similar questions about how they approach the attorney general job.
Nessel’s team responded, DePerno’s team canceled our interview and did not reschedule.