Jocelyn Benson

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Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson.jpg
Candidate for Michigan Secretary of State
Defeated in 2010
ProfessionAssociate Law Professor
Personal website
Jocelyn F. Benson is an Associate Law Professor at Wayne State University Law School located in Detroit, Michigan. On October 5, 2009, she announced her candidacy for the statewide office of secretary of state, a seat vacated by Republican Terri Lynn Land, who was barred by state term-limit laws from running for a third term.[1] Nearly a year later, however, Benson lost in the general election on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 to Republican Ruth Johnson after receiving a little over forty-five percent of the vote.

Despite speculation that she would run in 2014 for the U.S. House in Michigan's 11th District, Benson announced in December 2013 that she would not be seeking the seat.[2]


  • Bachelor's degree, Wellesley College (magna cum laude)
  • Master's degree in sociology, Magdalen College in Oxford
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Harvard University Law School

Professional experience

In the midst of studying for her bachelor's degree at Wellesley College, Benson founded the now-annual Women in American Political Activism conference and was the first student ever to be elected to serve in the governing body for the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts. She was given opportunities following graduation to work as a summer associate for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as serving as a legal assistant to American legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg at National Public Radio (NPR). Prior to graduating from law school, Benson worked as general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, a legal scholarship publication.

Benson has served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, a justice for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2004 to develop the first nationwide Election Protection program, which gave the authority to select, recruit, and train Voter Protection coordinators in twenty-one states and to deploy over 17,000 trained election law attorneys in the midst of the 2004 presidential election. Benson developed and pushed for nonpartisan election protection efforts on behalf of the Michigan Democratic Party from 2006 to 2008. In her testimony before the United States House Judiciary Committee in the wake of the 2008 presidential election, she called upon Republican Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to ban the use of foreclosure lists as a means to challenge a voter's eligibility on Election Day.

She was named as an Associate Law Professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan where she teaches Election Law, Sports and Inequality, Race and the Law, Education Law, and Civil Procedure. She was also appointed as a member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Election Law.


Secretary of State Project

See also: Secretary of State Project

Benson has received both the endorsement and financial assistance of the Secretary of State Project (SOS Project), a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose purpose is to "wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party" through the process of "removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count," namely the office of Secretary of State in many cases.[3][4] The SOS Project receives its funding from the George Soros-backed Democracy Alliance.[5]

Southern Poverty Law Center

Prior to entering law school, Benson lived in Montgomery, Alabama and worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm founded in 1971 by civil rights activists Morris Dees and Joe Levin, that monitors organized "hate" activity across the country. In addition to serious questions about the organization's finances, the SPLC has been criticized, particularly between 2008 and 2010, for designating racism and bigotry as an exclusive product of the "radical right."[6][7] Reports published by the firm have labeled conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Bradley Foundation as "hate groups" and have deemed tea party protests as seething hotbeds of bigotry and nativist extremism.[8][9][10]



See also: Michigan's 11th Congressional District elections, 2014

Despite speculation that she would seek the U.S. House seat from Michigan's 11th District, Benson announced in December 2013 that she would remain in her current post as Wayne State University law school dean.[11]


See also: Michigan Secretary of State election, 2010
2010 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[12]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Ruth Johnson 50.7%
     Democratic Party Jocelyn Benson 45.2%
     Libertarian Party Scotty Boman 1.8%
     U.S. Taxpayers Robert Gale 1.3%
     Green Party John A. La Pietra 1.0%
Total Votes 3,173,248

Campaign contributions


According to Follow the Money, Benson has raised $250,241 in 2010 for her secretary of state campaign as of September 29, 2010.[13]

Listed below are the top five contributors:

Donor Amount
Jocelyn F. Benson $6,387
Alida Messinger $3,400
Secretary of State Project $3,250
Bob McKay $3,000
Herbert Kurz $3,000

Contact information

Campaign Address:


Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State
P.O. Box 441181
Detroit MI 48226

Phone: (517) 680-4680
Fax: (313) 557-0944

See also

External links

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from October 23, 2010.