Coulter leads in Dem Oakland County exec race, 2 progressives ahead in big prosecutor primaries

By: and - August 5, 2020 6:17 am

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter, March 18, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

There were some big primaries for top local government offices on Tuesday, particularly in populous Southeast Michigan counties.

Here’s a look at where top races stand:

Oakland County Executive

Incumbent Democrat Dave Coulter has held a steady lead over challenger Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner as Oakland County executive.

Coulter has 53.3% to Meisner’s 46.7% with 83% of precincts reporting.

Mike Kowall

Coulter is a former Ferndale mayor and county commissioner. He is the first Democrat to hold the seat and was appointed county executive after longtime officeholder and Republican L. Brooks Patterson died last summer.

In the GOP primary, former state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake)leads Troy-based lawyer Jeffrey Nutt 74.8% to 25.2%.

Oakland County Prosecutor

Former Judge Karen McDonald looks to have ousted 12-year incumbent Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who is seeking a fourth term. 

With 83% reporting, McDonald claims 66% of votes, while Cooper has 34%. McDonald has received major endorsements from Attorney General Dana Nessel, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, county legislative leaders, unions, the ACLU and more.

The winner of this primary will face off in the November election with criminal law attorney Lin Goetz, who ran unopposed.

Wayne County Prosecutor

Incumbent Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, backed by Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, leads strong challenge from progressive defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris.

Wayne County’s results have trickled in slowly, with only 23% of precincts reporting. Worthy has 59.1%  to Burton-Harris’ 40.9%.

Worthy and Hammoud
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy  | Derek Robertson

Despite Worthy’s high-profile endorsements, Burton-Harris had a few of her own, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.Vt.) and musician John Legend. Burton-Harris calls herself a “people’s lawyer” and aims to reform the criminal justice system.

No Republicans filed to mount a challenge in the heavily Democratic county.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Eli Savit is the Democratic nominee for Washtenaw County prosecutor with 100% reporting. Savit currently serves as senior legal counsel for the city of Detroit and is a former law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The three-way primary also included Arianne Slay, who received an endorsement from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy; and Hugo Mack, a Ypsilanti-based lawyer convicted of rape in 1993 who says his experience with incarceration and parole makes him a knowledgable choice for the position. His law license was reinstated in 2010.

Savit scored 50.4%, with Slay trailing behind at 42.8% and Mack at 6.7%.

There is no Republican challenger for this seat. Current Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie is not seeking reelection. 

Macomb County Prosecutor

A race to restore trust in a scandalized county prosecutor’s office has led to a close multi-way Democratic primary, while state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) looks to have won on the Republican side with 89% reporting.

The winner of the race will replace former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, who resigned in March after being charged with finance-related crimes he committed while in office.

At the top of the Democratic pack of five candidates is former Judge Mary Chrzanowski of Harrison Township, known locally for her tough sentencing in the Macomb County Circuit Court. With 89% reporting, she leads with 34.4%.

Jodi Switalski has 32.3%, Saima Khalil has 17.4%, Tom Rombach has 11% and Eva Tkaczyk had 4.9%

On the GOP side, Lucido leads with 68.6% against attorney Richard John Goodman, who had 31.4%

Lucido was the subject of a Senate investigation in early spring which concluded that he had sexually harassed women. Advance reporter Allison Donahue’s story about Lucido’s sexist comments toward her in January led to the investigation, then his subsequent removal from the Senate’s powerful Advice and Consent Committee.

Oakland County Sheriff

Former state Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) leads in the race for Oakland County sheriff with 83% of precincts reporting. 

Gregory has taken 44.2% of the votes, outpacing competitors Barnett Jones and Randy Maloney, who took 39.2% and 16.6% of the votes, respectively. 

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.

C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore

C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.