Matt DePerno and Shane Hernandez rally Lenawee County Republicans
ADRIAN — Republican candidates for state attorney general and lieutenant governor stopped by Adrian on Friday to rally supporters with less than three weeks to go until the general election campaign.
Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno and Lt. Governor nominee Shane Hernandez introduced themselves, discussed their positions on the issues and spoke out against their Democratic opponents during the half-hour noon meeting.
DePerno, a Kalamazoo attorney, told the gathering of about 30 people that his journey to be the party’s nominee for attorney general began with state warrants at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. 2020 when he fought against businesses, especially restaurants, being closed, children having to go to school at home or behind acrylic dividers, and families not being able to see their loved ones who were dying in hospital intensive care units other than through video calls.
He called his Democratic opponent, incumbent Dana Nessel, “the most corrupt attorney general in the country right now.” She’s a coward and utterly incompetent, and we see that every day as she constantly loses high-profile cases.
DePerno was particularly critical of Nessel’s handling of criminal cases involving lead-tainted water in Flint, several of which were recently dismissed because the prosecution used a one-person grand jury, which the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.
“No one in Flint will ever see justice again,” he said, referring to the statute of limitations that will likely expire before new charges can be filed against some of those defendants.
He also criticized the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation that the COVID vaccine should be among the vaccines children receive before going to school, although he incorrectly stated that the CDC had said states should mandate the COVID vaccine. The CDC does not have the authority to set school vaccination requirements, and the vote does not mandate the vaccine for school children. That’s a decision left to the states, which he acknowledged in his remarks on Friday. DePerno said if elected, it wouldn’t happen in Michigan.
DePerno described Nessel as the “head of the serpent”.
“She’s the worst in the state right now, and we have a chance to take her down right now,” he said.
He said recent polls show him virtually tied with Nessel and that Republicans are undervalued in Michigan by about 5 percentage points. A recent survey, conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and released last week, showed Nessel up just 4 percentage points, within the margin of error.
DePerno only briefly mentioned County Antrim. He took legal action there after the 2020 election, suggesting there may have been widespread voter fraud. Although the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, a Grand Traverse County judge initially allowed DePerno and a team of people to examine some election equipment in County Antrim. The lawsuit has become a vehicle for former President Donald Trump and others around him to allege, wrongly, that the 2020 election was stolen.
A special prosecutor is investigating broad allegations that DePerno and others illegally accessed small town voting machines across the state, according to documents released by Nessel’s office.
DePerno denied wrongdoing and his campaign called the investigation a “political witch hunt.”
DePerno said Friday that if Nessel, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson win in November, they would put Republicans “under perpetual investigation.”
The Daily Telegram reached out to Nessel’s campaign for comment on Saturday, but did not hear back by the print deadline.
Hernandez, a former Port Huron state representative who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, had resumed his career as a project manager at a construction company when Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon asked him to be his running mate. On Friday, he shared his family’s story, describing how they came to Michigan as migrant farm workers and long considered themselves Democrats. He said when he was in high school, he realized his conservative values aligned more with the Republican Party. In time, he said his father had also switched parties and was now a Republican delegate.
He said the four issues that come up when talking to voters are public safety, the economy and inflation, education and infrastructure. He said thumb sheriffs told him they were seizing more meth and guns and he described legislative battles with Whitmer over funding for police training that was recently approved. He said he wanted to cut government regulation of businesses by 40%. On education issues, he said he wanted to prevent boys from playing on women’s sports teams and to ensure that parents had access to the teacher training curriculum and materials, particularly with regard to racial issues. On infrastructure, he described legislative battles with Whitmer over road funding and said people were telling him they couldn’t pay more tax.
He said Republicans can win by finding people like his father and former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who recently announced she had quit the Democratic Party, and encouraging them to vote Republican.
Among the audience were Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, who is running to be returned to the Michigan House of Representatives in the new 34th District that covers most of Lenawee County, and State Rep. Joe Bellino, who is running for the state senate district that covers most of the county. Each made brief remarks, with Bellino saying there is no one he has more respect for than Hernandez and Zorn urging a “no” vote on all three statehood proposals in the Nov. 8 ballot, particularly Proposition 3, which would enshrine reproductive rights in the state. Constitution.
The Detroit Free Press and The Associated Press contributed to this report.