Doctor Abdul El-Sayed, an Islam-practicing Egyptian American, is currently running for candidacy to be the Governor of Michigan. If elected, he would make history as being the first Muslim governor in the United States.
El-Sayed is competing against Shri Thanedar, a businessman who first considered running as a Republican, and Senator Gretchen Whitmer, to receive the Democratic nomination in the August 7th primary.
Before his unprecedented leap into politics, El-Sayed made impressive strides as a healthcare professional. He graduated from the University of Michigan and later was awarded the Rhodes scholarship, which led him to receive his doctorate from Oxford University and his medical degree from Columbia University.
He worked as a professor in New York and became internationally recognized as an expert in health policy and inequalities. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan appointed him in 2015 as the Director of Detroit’s Health Department. At the age of 30, he was known as the youngest health director in any major U.S. city.
His passion for medicine and public service inspired him to run for office. Witnessing the systemic failures of the government to provide clean water to Flint residents, El-Sayed seeks to lead a state where environmental justice would be guaranteed to all Michiganders.
“The responsibility is to promote justice, whether it be with my hands. And if not, then with my mouth. And if not, then at least with my heart” he tells VOA. “That promotion of justice, to address racial and ethnic inequalities, social inequalities, regional inequalities, and access to the basic goods and resources that people deserve in their lives. That has been the work that I’ve committed myself to as a doctor, as an epidemiologist, as a public health practitioner, and now as a public servant.”
El-Sayed’s political platform is centered on a Progressive policy agenda — seeking to enact systemic change and to prioritize people over profits. His platform advocates for Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, a transition towards a green economy, and even an end to gerrymandering.
Proponents of El-Sayed note that his policy agenda parallels to that of Bernie Sanders. And according to MLive, that comparison holds to be true. Not only is one of Sander’s key staffers now Sayed’s deputy campaign manager, his candidacy has been endorsed by Our Revolution, a Sander’s inspired Progressive organization.
El-Sayed has also been endorsed by Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of New York’s Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District. She has recently become an icon for the nation’s rising left — reports the Metro Times.
“I believe a politics of working hard for economic, social, and racial justice can succeed anywhere in America,” Ocasio-Cortez says in a press release. “Michigan is blessed to have Abdul El-Sayed as a candidate for Governor, and I am proud to support him.”
Despite receiving support by Progressive Michiganders and the largest Arab American population in the nation, El-Sayed still faces the challenge of convincing the majority of Michigan residents to support him. His Muslim identity makes it especially difficult for him to receive the nomination, given that the state helped Donald Trump win the Presidential election.
He is also falling behind in the polls — according to Metro Times. As of July 2nd, Whitmer is currently ahead in the race, polling at 40%. El-Sayed is last in the poll, landing at 17%. It’s been a big improvement since April, however, when his polling rate fell within the single digits.
There is still some hope that El-Sayed may win the primary election, however. After Thursday night’s final gubernatorial debate among the three candidates, viewers of this fiery discussion deemed him as the clear winner — reports Common Dreams.
“El-Sayed performed the strongest, he really honed in on values that everyone should have access to economic opportunities, everyone should have access to healthcare,” Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez states. “Those things are really going to resonate with folks who usually don’t engage in primaries.”
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