Jocelyn Benson

Opinion
8:39 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Should the Dean of Wayne State University run for congress?

Lessenberry commentary for 11/5/13

Today is Election Day in local communities all across Michigan. But politicians being politicians, many are already looking ahead to next year’s statewide and congressional elections.

For everyone in the game, deciding whether to run is a matter of weighing hope versus experience; ambition against common sense. Sometimes, long shots pay off. On paper, it made no sense for a freshman senator to run for President six years ago, and not just because there was a formidable front-runner. 

The challenger was black. I thought his candidacy was hopeless. But as the world knows, I was gloriously wrong. However, back in 2000, Barack Obama was the one who was wrong. He challenged an incumbent congressman in a primary race. He lost by more than 2-1, drained his finances and strained his marriage for a time. Every situation is different.

But now, one of Michigan’s potentially biggest stars faces her own dilemma. Few have accomplished as much at a relatively early age as Jocelyn Benson. Barely 36 years old, she is already interim dean of Wayne State University law school. She has degrees from Wellesley, Oxford and Harvard Law. She has a stunning resume that includes stints working for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, NPR and the revered federal appeals judge Damon Keith. 

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Politics & Government
2:09 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Democratic candidate enters race for Michigan's 11th district

Campaign photo of Bobby McKenzie
Bobby McKenzie Facebook

A former State Department official announced today he will begin his campaign for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District.

Bobby McKenzie, a Democrat known for his counterterrorism expertise, is running for the seat currently held by Republican Kerry Bentivolio.

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Stateside
5:53 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Controversy surrounds the results of Detroit's mayoral primary

Jocelyn Benson, dean of the Wayne State University Law School.
Photograph courtesy of the votebenson.com website

An interview with Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school.

As you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
7:02 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Reports of confusion, frustration over voter ID law after Tuesday primary

Some Michigan voters were wrongly turned away from the polls last Tuesday after refusing to affirm their US citizenship.

But some other voters—and an elections watchdog group—say they also encountered problems with misguided enforcement of the state’s voter ID law.

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Commentary
1:14 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Fighting for a Future

Here’s something you may not have thought about: Who are the Michigan Democratic party’s future leaders? The Republican landslide last fall eliminated a generation of politicians.

Today, the Democrats don’t have a single statewide officeholder, other than some judges and school and university board members.  Five of the six Democratic congressmen are elderly.

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