One of the more scandalous aspects of the Governor’s race in Michigan has been the attempts by the Democrats to force Abdul El-Sayed out of the race. In a dirty tricks campaign, Dems have been fueling questions about the residency status of the life-long Michigan resident, who happened to have a brief stint in medical school and teaching at Columbia University, that it is claimed disqualifies him as a resident. It’s all been behind the scenes skull-duggery complete with anonymous quotes and birther like whispering campaigns. Believe me, I know how the Dems do these things after my own run guerilla tactics run for Governor, knocking off the Establishment candidates.
Gretchen Whitmer is the establishment candidate. She is the proto-Michigan Dem: kind of liberal, kind of experienced, kind of pro-Labor, kind of careful and kind of uninspiring. Perfect for another loss? IDK. She is a kind of proto- Granholm profile, which should concern many. As much of a disaster that Granholm was for Michigan (she says Whitmer would be a phenomenal candidate), at least she was strong and could win. Running against her are several decidedly not proto typical Dems. Shri Thanedar is from a family that immigrated from one of those countries our Republican friends call a “shit-hole country” (i.e. India). He is an unapologetic liberal, intelligent and walks the walk: a single father, scientist-entrepreneur. He is a solid liberal, solid character, well qualified… and Indian-American. I’m guessing that the Dem establishment thinks that he couldn’t win in rural Michigan where they still haven’t taken down the crosses they burned in corn fields during pro-Trump rallies.
Abdul El-Sayed is another man with an immigration story – except he has an Arab name and if there is one thing that scares the Dems more than an Indian-American it is a Muslim-American. He is another man with a solid character, extraordinarily intelligent and qualified. When I say “another man of solid character” I don’t mean to be diminutive – these are rare characters in Michigan politics. They are actually inspiring as well as honest and moral. While Dems feel that they can afford to take a distance from the progressive Shri, Mr. El-Sayed is a problem for them. The large Muslim-American community in SE Michigan and the simmering conflicts between the Arab and the African-American Community is a challenge to their traditional dominance in SE Michigan. They can’t win without a large turnout here.
Maybe the apparent Dem calculation that Thanedar and El-Sayed could not win in Michigan is what is driving their birther-like campaign, but I think they are selling the voters short. OK, there is plenty of indications that out-State voters are not prone to liberals, Indians or Arabs. But Shri and Abdul are not defined by their ethnicity or names. They are non-traditional candidates in some very important regards: they are honest, intelligent and qualified. They are more American in values and lifestyle than many Republicans (or Dems for that matter). They deserve a fair chance to present their case for election, and at the very least their honesty, integrity and values will uplift the Democratic Party in Michigan.