Former Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard
Former Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard announced on Friday that he’s running for Michigan attorney general for a second time after narrowly losing to Dana Nessel in the general election in 2018.
Leonard’s announcement, on the first day of a three-day Michigan Republican leadership conference on Mackinac Island, sets the stage for a potentially nasty convention race against a conspiracy-peddling attorney endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
“I served alongside law enforcement. I’ve worked with crime victims 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 selected by their political party during a convention. For the Republican Party nomination, Leonard will face Matthew DePerno
, who has pushed baseless conspiracies about election fraud and was endorsed earlier this month Trump. State Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, also is vying 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 the speaker in 2017 and 2018. Leonard was nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. attorney for the Western District in 2019 but was never confirmed because of resistance from Michigan’s Democratic U.S. senators.
Leonard is currently the finance chairman for the Michigan Republican Party, potentially giving him an inside advantage during the convention. Leonard also received key endorsements from Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Tom McMillin, a conservative member of the State Board of Education.
But the Michigan Republican Party has been steadfastly loyal to Trump
, and its leaders have favored candidates who have challenged the presidential election results.
On Sept. 16, Trump called DePerno a “super lawyer” who has "defended the Constitution for 20 years.”
"Dana Nessel, the Radical Left, and the RINOs are targeting Matt because he gets results and has exposed so much Voter Fraud in Antrim County, and many more places, in the 2020 Election," Trump said. "He will never give up, and that’s why they absolutely cannot stand him!"
DePerno rose from relative obscurity when he filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of an Antrim County resident, alleging Dominion Voting Systems election software and machines were “corrupted,” a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.
A Republican judge dismissed the lawsuit. Even the Republican-controlled Senate Oversight Committee
concluded DePerno’s allegations were baseless.
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