The race was shaken up in the final weeks by reports that Cox had attended an infamous 2002 party and received lap dances, claims he denied.
A witness’s sworn affidavit in a pending lawsuit was leaked to reporters in the days leading up to the vote. In it, Wilson Kay Jr. said that Cox was at the long-rumored 2002 party at the Manoogian Mansion in Detroit and that he received lap dances from exotic dancers. Cox denied the claim and questions arose about the credibility of the witness, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Cox was hampered by allegations he didn’t properly investigate the death of stripper Tamara "Strawberry" Greene, who was murdered after allegedly attending the Manoogian Mansion party where witnesses said she was assaulted by then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita.
Meanwhile, Snyder introduced himself to voters with a Super Bowl spot titled, "One Tough Nerd." He subsequently poured millions of his own money into an ad campaign that maintained the same theme.
Snyder dramatically outspent his rivals. He reported raising $7.3 million, although $5.9 million was his own money. Cox raised $2.9 million, while Hoekstra raised $1.6 million.
An EPIC-MRA poll released last week by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV showed the three top Republican candidates tied and the two Democratic candidates, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and House Speaker Andy Dillon, within eight points of each other. Bernero clinched the Democratic nomination earlier Tuesday night.
Dillon raised $1.4 million for his bid while Bernero raked in $743,000. Bernero was also boosted by the support of labor unions, including the Michigan AFL-CIO. Dillon reportedly angered union leaders when he proposed requiring all public employees to join a single, statewide health insurance system.
Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) was expected to be the Democratic nominee, but he was hampered by the state’s struggling economy and the auto industry’s troubles. He subsequently dropped out of the race in January.
Hoekstra got support from his allies in Washington. For instance, the Republican National Committee let the congressman deliver the party’s weekly radio address before President Obama visited the state in May. But it wasn't enough to overcome Snyder, who ran as the businessman, outsider.