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Finley: Give voters a third choice for AG

This would be a fine year to break the political duopoly in Michigan.

At a moment when exceptional leadership is needed in Lansing to navigate the rough economic waters ahead, voters will see a ballot loaded with the mediocre, the incompetent and the downright unacceptable.

If nothing changes between now and November, voters will be asked again to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils.

I'm tired of wearing nose plugs into the voting booth, and I suspect a lot of other folks are as well.

We've locked ourselves into accepting whatever sorry choices the Democrats and Republicans have to offer, thinking there are no other options. While third party candidates abound, most, if not all live, on the fringes, preoccupied with very narrow issues.

We should change that this year. We can do it by encouraging, funding and voting for independent candidates, most likely drawn from the fold of Republicans who haven't gone Trump crazy.

The attorney general's race would be a good place to start. Tom Leonard last month lost his bid for the Republican Party's endorsement for AG. The Trump forces orchestrated a takeover that pushed aside Leonard, a highly capable candidate and former speaker of the Michigan House, in favor of Matt DePerno, a shady character who has no qualifications other than his devotion to the former president. He also has very little hope of beating incumbent Dana Nessel.

Nessel is the most vulnerable Democrat on the state-wide ballot. Her hyper-partisanship and proud willingness to ignore laws she doesn't agree with calls into question her electability against a more mainstream opponent.

If the big GOP funders who are sitting on their wallets because the Republican ticket is so abhorrent would seriously back a bid by Leonard, he could pull it off. 

When I asked Leonard about an independent run after the Grand Rapids convention, he was unconvinced running without a party's backing could work. 

Other Republicans express concern that Leonard's presence on the ballot would split the GOP vote and guarantee Nessel's victory. Maybe. In that case, it would also assure DePerno's defeat, and that, in the long term, is better for Republicans than having him as the face of their party.

In the secretary of state's race, the menu is no more appetizing for rational Republican voters. The GOP is prepared to put on the ballot Kristina Karamo, another candidate whose only issue is that Trump was robbed.

Incumbent Jocelyn Benson, backed by billionaires, is less vulnerable than Nessel, perhaps, but voters should remember the mess she made of her operations during the pandemic. If they do, they might welcome another choice. 

Again, it's a long shot an independent campaign could prevail — unless those interested in good government and upgrading the quality of leadership put a flood of cash behind the effort.

It would be a big step toward reclaiming the Republican Party for principled conservatism.

And also good practice for the 2024 presidential race, when, if we see a Donald Trump/President Joe Biden rematch, there won't be enough plugs in America to cover all the noses that will need one.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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Watch Finley on DPTV’s “One Detroit” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays.