Former Michigan House President Tom Leonard announced Friday that he is running for Michigan Attorney General for the second time after he narrowly lost to Dana Nessel in the 2018 general election.
Leonard’s announcement, on the first day of a three-day Republican leadership conference in Michigan on Mackinac Island, forms the basis for a potentially ugly rally against a conspiracy-cultivating lawyer approved by former President Donald Trump.
“I served with law enforcement. I have worked with victims of crime and their families. I know what it takes to get the job done and keep people safe, ”Leonard, a former assistant prosecutor in Genesee County, said in a news release.
In 2018, Nessel defeated Leonard by less than 3 percentage points.
Attorney General candidates are elected by their political party during a rally. At the Republican nomination, Leonard will face Matthew DePerno, who has pushed for baseless conspiracies about election fraud and was approved earlier this month by Trump. State Representative Ryan Berman of Commerce Township is also fighting for the nomination.
Leonard is an establishment candidate with a long record in the Republican Party. He served three terms in the State House and was a speaker in 2017 and 2018. Leonard was nominated by Trump to serve as a U.S. attorney for the Western District in 2019, but was never confirmed due to opposition from Michigan’s Democratic U.S. senators.
Leonard is currently the finance chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, which may give him an inside advantage during the convention. Leonard also received important recommendations from Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Tom McMillin, a Conservative member of the State Board of Education.
But the Republican Party in Michigan has been firmly loyal to Trump, and its leaders have favored candidates who have challenged the presidential election.
On September 16, Trump called DePerno a “super-advocate” who “has been defending the Constitution for 20 years.”
“Dana Nessel, the Radical Left, and the RINOs are targeting Matt because he’s getting results and has revealed so much voter fraud in Antrim County and many more places in the 2020 election,” Trump said. “He will never give up and therefore they absolutely can not stand him!”
DePerno rose from relative obscurity when he filed a lawsuit on behalf of a resident of Antrim County last year, claiming that Dominion Voting Systems’ election software and machines were “corrupt,” a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.
A Republican judge dismissed the lawsuit. Even the Republican-controlled Senate Monitoring Committee concluded that DePerno’s allegations were unfounded.
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