Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has won reelection.
Nessel, a Democrat and a lesbian, beat Republican challenger Matthew DePerno, a 2020 election denier. As of Wednesday morning, Nessel had 52.4 percent of the vote and DePerno 45.3 percent, the Detroit Free Press reports. The race was expected to be closer. DePerno called Nessel to concede.
Nessel gave a shout-out to LGBTQ+ youth in a tweet. "For all the LGBTQ kids out there who were demonized and whose lives were weaponized by sad and broken adults during this election cycle: You are good enough. Your lives and stories matter. God loves you just as you are. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise," she wrote.
Nessel has asked for a special prosecutor to bring charges against DePerno and others in connection with 2020 election tampering. She is Michigan's top law enforcement officer, but for her to bring charges herself against a political opponent would be a conflict of interest. She and her staff have accused DePerno and eight other people of being involved in a conspiracy to change the results of the presidential election and swing Michigan's electoral votes from Joe Biden to Donald Trump. Among other things, they are accused of unauthorized access to vote-counting equipment.
Before she was attorney general, Nessel was a prosecutor in Wayne County, Mich., and an attorney in private practice. In the latter role, she was the original lawyer in DeBoer v. Snyder, a case in which a Michigan lesbian couple challenged the state's ban on same-sex marriage; it was eventually consolidated with Ohio's Obergefell v. Hodges and cases from Kentucky and Tennessee and heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the 2015 marriage equality ruling.
In an Advocate interview before the election, Nessel said Republicans were attacking "some of our most vulnerable members of society in an effort to divide us. But I have to hope that the younger generations will see it for what it is and that this will be an ugly, ugly period of time that will quickly pass, and we'll be back on the road to ensuring equal rights for all people, including the LGBT community, and that things will have changed to the better in the long run."
Among other attacks, right-wing groups claimed that Michigan's Proposal 3, a ballot measure to enshrine the right to reproductive freedom in the state constitution, contained "hidden" language that would allow children to receive puberty blockers without parental consent. It contained no such thing. Michigan voters were not swayed by that argument and approved the proposal.
Although DePerno conceded defeat, he remained defiant. "Although I may be conceding to Dana Nessel today, I refuse to concede that Michigan is a blue state," he said in a statement, according to the Free Press. "I will continue to fight like hell to restore Michigan to all it can be and I look forward to continuing this journey with you all."