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Write-in candidate won Detroit mayoral primary, state board says

DETROIT (Reuters) - A former hospital executive won Detroit's disputed August mayoral primary by more than 20,000 votes after mounting a write-in campaign and will face his closest challenger in the November general election, a state panel ruled on Tuesday.

Mike Duggan received 48,716 write-in votes in the August 6 primary, while Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon finished a distant second in the non-partisan primary with 28,391 votes, according to the state canvass of results.

A final certification of the primary had been held up for weeks over the counting of thousands of write-in votes for Duggan. The state's certification of the results clears the way for recounts that could take a few weeks.

The November 5 general election will determine a successor to Mayor Dave Bing, who said in May he would not seek re-election.

Detroit is under the control of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr and filed for bankruptcy protection in July, but the primary nevertheless drew more than a dozen candidates.

The city's unofficial results gave Duggan the victory by a wide margin over Napoleon, but the Wayne County Clerk's Office recommended striking thousands of write-in votes due to errors in the counting process, which would have made Napoleon first and Duggan second.

The top two vote-getters in the primary advance and a ruling either way would not have changed the matchup for the November 5 general election. Both are Democrats.

(Reporting by Steve Neavling in Detroit; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune and Richard Chang)

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