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Abdul El-Sayed: “We’re 100% confident that I’m eligible to run for governor”

Abdul El-Sayed
Mercedes Mejia
Michigan Radio
Abdul El-Sayed

Stateside's conversation with Abdul El-Sayed, Democratic candidate for governor.

Abdul El-Sayed
Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Abdul El-Sayed

Despite recent chatter concerning Democrat Abdul El-Sayed’s eligibility to run for governor of Michigan, the doctor and former Detroit health director remains confident.

“We’re 100% confident that I’m eligible to run for governor and to serve as governor of the state,” El-Sayed told host Cynthia Canty.

The Secretary of State confirmed he’s been continuously registered to vote in Michigan since 2003, but according to a Bridge Magazine report, El-Sayed was also registered to vote in New York from October 2012 to at least March 2015. He was a professor at Columbia University during that time. According to the Constitution of the State of Michigan, a candidate must be a registered elector in the state for four years before the general election.

“This question of my eligibility shouldn’t bother folks,” he said. “At the end of the day, we know I’m eligible. This is unfortunately a political smear that I think is very consistent with what we’ve seen. I mean I watched Barack Hussein Obama run for president and this is very similar to the kinds of attacks that he got.”

In 2010, State Treasurer Bob Bowman considered running for governor but ultimately did not due to the fact that his primary residence was in Westport, Connecticut. El-Sayed is concerned about this issue and its impact on Michigan’s Democratic Party.

“I think the worst case scenario for democrats is that we watch as insiders knee-cap the best possible candidate for office, the only candidate who’s exciting people around the state and having conversations about real rigorous policy and then we have a sub-standard candidate who carries our flag and loses yet again," he said. 

"I worry a lot about a certain feeling of playing not to lose among democrats and rather than embracing the opportunity to win."

El-Sayed said he knows Michigan residents are tired of backroom politics.

“They want somebody who’s focused on solutions to the challenges that they face, and that’s what we offer.”

Earlier this week, El-Sayed’s campaign rolled out a 36-page plan to improve Michigan cities, with policy recommendations concerning everything from public transportation to affordable housing and criminal justice reform.

“At the end of the day we as a state can embrace our cities,” El-Sayed said. “We can see them as places that can be the engines of growth for our economy, but that’s going to take empowering people to be a part of that rather than having a vision where Michigan continues to hobble its cities from being the kind of places that are both equitable and prosperous.”

The gubernatorial candidate specifically highlighted his desire to reform revenue sharing and emergency management in the state.  

“Right now as a state people like Rick Snyder, who is a CPA, has sought to balance books for the state by taking away the revenue that municipalities ought to have to be able to provide the services they uniquely can provide.

El-Sayed seeks to repeal emergency management in an effort to empower local communities by sharing revenue to support their community services.

“As a former health director, somebody who was fully enthralled in the work of providing basic services for communities in Detroit, I know how important those services are, and so if we can equip communities with the means of being able to thrive, and remove state government in the circumstances where it’s getting in the way, I really think we can empower our cities.”Stateside followed up with El-Sayed's campaign and confirmed that he was registered to vote both in Michigan and New York during the last four years. 

After the interview, campaign spokesman Adam Joseph told Stateside they consulted Robert Lenhard, an attorney and former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission. Lenhard told the campaign: "We have looked at this question closely and are confident Abdul El Sayed is qualified to run for Governor of Michigan. He was born here, went to school here, and married here. He has been a property owner, a taxpayer, a registered voter and a resident of Michigan throughout the qualifying period under State law. Michigan law has never held that absences from the state for school or work cause you to lose your residence. This issue is just a red herring." (Subscribe to the Stateside podcast oniTunes,Google Play, or with thisRSS link)

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Originally from New Jersey, Lara is a senior at the University of Michigan studying English and Spanish. She's an Online News and Investigative Intern at Michigan Radio and a recent alum of The Michigan Daily, where she's served as managing editor of The Statement Magazine and summer editor in chief. When she's not at Michigan Radio, she can be found listening to Bruce Springsteen or exploring a national park.
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