Benson is the secretary of state’s favorite when it comes to campaign and poll money

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has a comfortable advantage in remaining Michigan’s top campaign official, according to campaign finance reports released Friday and the latest polls.

Benson raised just over $879,000 from mid-September to Oct. 23, according to his pre-election report, including an in-kind contribution of about $5,000.

In total this election cycle, Benson has raised more than $5.1 million. His campaign has spent about $2.7 million this cycle and still has nearly $1.5 million left.

Republican challenger Kristina Karamo, by comparison, has raised just over $241,000 since mid-September, according to her pre-election filing. She said she had $158,492 left to spend as of October 23.

In total this cycle, Karamo’s campaign has raised more than $1.1 million and spent nearly $1 million.

Benson’s major donations over the past six weeks include tens of thousands of dollars from unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), as well than Blue Cross Blue Shield. Hollywood filmmaker JJ Abrams even contributed the individual maximum, $7,150.

Karamo’s largest donation was $7,150 from West Michigan businessman and prolific Republican donor JC Huizenga.

Deep-pocketed liberal groups also spent more than $4 million in digital, print and TV ads against Karamo in the past month, state data shows. That includes a nearly $2 million television ad buy from Women Vote Michigan last month.

The poll in the SOS election saw the widest margins of Michigan’s three major offices. The latest poll, conducted this week by GOP pollster Cygnal, has Benson leading 49% to 41%, with a margin of error of 2.3 points.

The latest independent poll, conducted last week by Mitchell Research, gave Benson a 9-point lead with a margin of error of 4.2 points.

Related: What Michigan’s midterm poll shrinkage really means for voters

Karamo was a 2020 Detroit ballot candidate who claimed to have witnessed irregularities in the processing of mail-in ballots in Detroit. She turned false accusations of a stolen election into a statewide candidacy after being endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

His main criticisms of the Michigan election include that there are too many dead on the voter rolls and not enough Republican voters in major Democratic areas.

She also celebrated a court victory last week in which Benson’s rules for ballot candidates were struck down for not following the correct process.

Benson used her term to “stand guard” over democracy, she previously told MLive. Audits and investigations found Michigan’s election to be free of the widespread fraud claimed by Karamo and other Trump allies.

Learn more about MLive:

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For Michigan SOS Jocelyn Benson, watching over democracy and the right to vote are her priorities

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Michigan Republican SOS candidate Kristina Karamo tried to crash a car with her family, court filing says

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