Cox beats Peters for atty. gen.

BY JORDAN SCHRADER
Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 26, 2002

When the Nov. 5 election results received their final stamp of approval yesterday, state Sen. Gary Peters picked up the telephone for the last time in his campaign for attorney general.

Republican Mike Cox officially became attorney general-elect yesterday after the Board of State Canvassers certified the election results. His Democratic opponent called him to concede and said he would not contest the election.

In one of the closest statewide races Michigan has seen in 50 years, 5,200 votes separated the candidates in the end.

While waiting for counties to check their tallies throughout this month, Peters left the door open for a recount. But after reviewing the results last weekend, he decided to accept defeat, he said yesterday in a written statement.

"Although I believe a recount would uncover additional anomalies and errors and further narrow the gap in this extremely tight race, I am not convinced a recount would alter the ultimate result," he said. "Rather than subject the voters of Michigan to a protracted electoral and legal battle, I believe it is time to move forward."

State department spokeswoman Julie Pierce said the board would have questioned any discrepancies it found.

"There were no irregularities found," she said. "Nothing was out of order."

Peters could have requested a recount by paying $10 a precinct, adding up to more than $55,000 for a statewide count. A margin of less than 2,000 votes would have triggered an automatic recount.

Certification also brought finality to the University Board of Regents election, confirming the victories of Republican candidates Andrew Richner and Ann Arbor native Andrea Fischer-Newman.

State Rep. Richner (R-Grosse Pointe Park) received the second-greatest number of votes, beating Democrat Greg Stephens of Saline by 7,242 votes.

Stephens waited for certification to concede defeat but said he had not expected a large enough boost in votes. He will not ask for a recount because it is too expensive, he said.

Cox began his transition to attorney general soon after his unofficial win on election night, working with Attorney General and Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm and other officials to prepare for the job he will take over Jan. 1.

Peters' refusal to concede did not severely hamper the transition effort, Cox spokesman Stu Sandler said. "He met with Granholm and (former Attorney General Frank) Kelley," he said. "I don't know if those meetings could have been more productive if this had been behind us, but all in all, Mike's had a productive transition."

"He was always confident that the votes would stand up," Sandler said.

He said the transition is proceeding as Cox formulates policy, interviews prospective employees and analyzes the office.

A Livonia resident and head of the homicide division of the Wayne County prosecutor's office, Cox stressed his legal experience in the campaign against Peters of Bloomfield Township. Cox will be the state's first Republican attorney general in more than 40 years.

In the official results, Granholm beat Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus of Alto by 127,692 votes to win the governor's office and Republican Terri Land of Byron Center took the secretary of state's election by 371,820 votes. In all, 3,219,864 Michigan voters cast ballots.