Michigan’s 1st Muslim Governor?

by Ryan Cooper
February 5, 2018

Perhaps the signature state loss of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was Michigan. It had been the beating heart of the greatest industrial engine in the world and FDR’s New Deal Democrats, but was economically obliterated by deindustrialization, enabled to no small degree by Clinton-style policies. Still, President Obama won the state by nearly 10 points in 2012, and liberals confidently predicted that Clinton would manage to hold the line. Instead she lost by 0.3 percent.

Today, a rather unlikely-sounding candidate to become Michigan governor is looking to take back the state for the Democrats.

Abdul El-Sayed, a 33-year-old doctor and son of an Egyptian immigrant, is running an economically populist campaign that would also make him the first Muslim governor in American history. He’s competing to replace the term-limited Rick Snyder, the despised Republican who oversaw the infamous lead poisoning crisis in Flint (which was incidentally only recently declared over). It’s a major test of whether diverse economic populism can assemble a multi-racial coalition to defeat Trump and his Republican lackeys.

The campaign hit a minor controversy over the last week, as centrist Democrats have alleged he can’t legally run. Bridge Magazine quoted several election lawyers and party “leaders” — mostly anonymously, for some reason — arguing that since Michigan law stipulates that any gubernatorial candidate has to be registered to vote in the state for the previous four years and El-Sayed was registered in New York from 2013-16 when he was in medical school there, he’s ineligible.

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