Incumbent Pauline Wendzel declared victory on election night Tuesday in the race for Michigan’s 79th District state House seat with many precincts still unreported to the public.

That held true and with all precincts reporting Wednesday afternoon, Wendzel beat challenger Chokwe Pitchford 25,656 to 19,658.

Pitchford, D-Benton Harbor, received far more votes than Wendzel, R-Watervliet, in all three precincts in Benton Harbor, all six precincts in Benton Township and in two of St. Joseph’s three precincts.

Wendzel did far better in areas like Watervliet, Coloma, Royalton Township, Lincoln Township, Lake Township, Hagar Township and Bainbridge Township.

“I want to thank my family, my team, and the thousands of Berrien County residents who put their continued faith in me to serve our community,” Wendzel said in a news release issued at midnight on election night. “We worked hard, we left everything on the field, and we took care of business.

“When this term started in 2019, I don’t think anybody could have predicted how it would go. Unprecedented challenges have been met with unparalleled successes, but there is still so much more work to do to recover from this pandemic and build a healthy community and a healthy economy.”

She added: “Tonight, we won, and we’re going to enjoy our victory. Tomorrow morning, I’m going right back to work helping my constituents receive their unemployment benefits, slashing through the bureaucracy of state government, and advancing common sense legislation that benefits our community.”

Contact:, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa