by Jessica Carreras
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who was most gay groups’ top pick for the Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan, soared to a win in the Aug. 3 primaries, garnering 59 percent of the vote to opponent Andy Dillon’s 41 percent.
The Republican win went to Ann Arbor businessman and former Gateway President Rick Snyder. The self-described “tough nerd” secured 37 percent of the his party’s vote; U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra had 27 percent and Attorney General Mike Cox had 23 percent.
Republican voters outnumbered Democrats 2-1.
Bernero received endorsements from Between The Lines, Equality Michigan, the Lansing Association for Human Rights, the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality and the Michigan Democratic Party LGBTA Caucus. He is a known supporter of the spectrum of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, hate crimes protections, employment and housing non-discrimination, gay-inclusive anti-bullying legislation and second-parent adoption.
In a July interview with BTL, Bernero named relationship recognition and equality as his top LGBT rights priority in the state.
“I’m interested in engaging more with the community to set our legislative agenda, but I think relationship equality and the issue of health care benefits (are most important) – especially as health benefits become harder to get,” Bernero said. “How we advance that whole thing is going to be important, both for human rights, for the quality of life issues of individuals, and also for the economy of the state. I really believe, as Michigan struggles and we work to come out of this economy, that relationship equality could be a way that we could turn around the job loss and population loss – to become a more welcoming state and become more LGBT friendly.”
Bernero held his victory party at the Antheneum Hotel in downtown Detroit Tuesday night, surrounded by his family and 300 supporters.