Lansing — On Wed., July 25, just two weeks before the Democratic primary, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Abdul El-Sayed for governor of Michigan.
Sanders defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Michigan Democratic Primary by 2 percentage points, a surprise win over Clinton, who went on to secure the Democratic nomination for president.
El-Sayed, a 33-year old Rhodes Scholar who lives in Shelby Township, hopes to pull ahead of his competitors, former State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar in the Aug. 7 primary.
“I’m proud to endorse Dr. Abdul El-Sayed for governor of Michigan,” Sanders said. “As governor, Dr. El-Sayed will fight for a government in Lansing that represents all the people and not just wealthy special interests. Under Abdul’s leadership, Michigan can help lead the nation in guaranteeing health care for all through a Medicare for All single-payer type system, tuition free public colleges and universities, a minimum wage of $15 per hour and strong environmental protections.”
El-Sayed is running a similar campaign to Sanders’ in 2016, staying on a far-left policy platform. New York congressional Candidate Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and filmmaker Michael Moore, two know left-leaning names, have also recently endorsed him.
“Bold ideas like single-payer health care and tuition-free and debt-free college have been pushed to the forefront of our political conversation because of the work that (Sanders) has done in Michigan during his historic primary win in 2016,” El-Sayed said in a statement. “I look forward to carrying that mantle forward to solve problems for Michiganders as governor.”
Still considered the most likely favorite for the Democratic nomination, Whitmer has gained support from labor unions that traditionally drive Democratic primary wins; and has also been backed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as well as several congressional Democrats.
Thanedar, who is also to the left of Whitmer, has invested $6 million of his personal funds in television ads, billboards and mailers.
Metro Detroit pollster Ed Sarpolus said Sanders’ endorsement should help El-Sayed gather more support, but it’s unlikely to gain him a win in the Democratic primary. He also said many absentee voters have already cast their ballots in the mail.
“It means he has a longer future in politics with this endorsement,” Sarpolus said of El-Sayed. “Things could tighten up, but right now the advantage is still Gretchen.”
Sanders has yet to confirm that he’ll campaign for El-Sayed in Michigan before the Aug. 7 primary, as he’s done for political candidates in other states. There’s “nothing to announce yet,” El-Sayed spokesman Adam Joseph said Wednesday evening.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) and Saginaw obstetrician Jim Hines are competing for the Republican nomination.