On Wednesday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed former Detroit Public Health Chief Abdul El-Sayed for governor of Michigan. Sanders cited El-Sayed’s support of “Medicare for All,” tuition-free public colleges and universities, a $15 minimum wage, and strong environmental protections in the course of his endorsement.
Under @AbdulElSayed'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.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 25, 2018
El-Sayed hired veteran Sanders organizers to run his campaign and has crafted a platform seemingly designed to appeal to the senator’s supporters. In particular, El-Sayed’s uniquely detailed state-level, single-payer plan sets him apart from his primary opponents, who have either declined to support a Michigan single-payer plan or have offered support in name only.
The candidate faces an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination: Former Michigan Democratic Senate leader Gretchen Whitmer leads the field with 39 percent of the vote, according to a recent poll. She’s followed by largely self-funded businessman Shri Thanedar, who has 17 percent of the vote. El-Sayed trails at 12 percent, with around one-third of voters still undecided.
But Sanders himself scored an unexpected victory in Michigan in 2016, defeating Hillary Clinton despite polls that showed Clinton with a 20-point lead. The poll-watcher website 538 called Sanders’s victory “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.”
It remains to be seen whether Sanders’s endorsement will help to galvanize the voters who enabled his 2016 primary upset. The primary election takes place on August 7.