Four candidates running for Michigan attorney general

Incumbent Dana Nessel (D), Matthew DePerno (R), Joe McHugh (L), and Gerald T. Van Sickle (U.S. Taxpayers Party) are running for Michigan attorney general on Nov. 8, 2022.

Nessel was elected in 2018, defeating Tom Leonard (R) 49.0% to 46.3%. Before Nessel’s election, a Republican had held the office since 2002.

Detroit Free Press‘ Dave Boucher wrote on Oct. 25, 2022, “[The attorney general race is] a close contest marked by a looming criminal investigation and personal attacks. … Polls consistently show this is the tightest statewide race in Michigan[.]”

Nessel says, “I am the best candidate to be Michigan’s AG because I am committed to serving all residents as the People’s Lawyer, with a focus on safeguarding consumers and protecting the voting, reproductive and civil rights of Michiganders.” Nessel has criticized what she called DePerno’s “extreme and radical stances” on abortion and the 2020 presidential election. She says, “AGs are tasked with defending the rights of their state’s residents. Voting, reproductive, civil rights — it all hinges on who’s in the AG’s office. My opponent’s extreme views on abortion & insistence that the 2020 election was stolen make him too dangerous to be Michigan’s AG.”

DePerno, who opened his own law firm in 2005, says, “I am running for attorney general to restore integrity, justice, and morality here in Michigan. … On day one, I will restore law and order.” DePerno’s campaign website says he had been “fighting against tyranny in Michigan for many years, including protesting across the state against [Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)] and Nessel’s unconstitutional mask mandates, school and business lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and critical race theory.” DePerno says he will “prosecute the people who corrupted the 2020 election and allowed fraud to permeate the entire election system[.]”

According to Boucher, “In August, the Office of the Michigan Attorney General and Michigan State Police revealed details of an inquiry that show they believe there is evidence DePerno … and others violated multiple laws by accessing and tampering with election equipment.”

MLive‘s Ben Orner wrote, “DePerno faces possible criminal charges in that ballot machine investigation. Nessel requested a special prosecutor so to prevent a conflict of interest if charges are brought. DePerno has maintained his innocence and says Nessel is ‘weaponizing her office’ to attack a political opponent.”

In 2018, Democrats gained a state government triplex in Michigan, flipping the Republican-held executive offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

This is one of 30 elections for attorney general taking place in 2022. All 50 states have an attorney general who serves as the state’s chief legal officer, responsible for enforcing state law and offering the state government advice on legal matters. In 43 states, the office is an elected post. There are currently 27 Republican attorneys general and 23 Democratic attorneys general. Heading into the 2022 elections, there are 23 Republican triplexes, 18 Democratic triplexes, and nine divided governments where neither party holds triplex control.