Michigan Governor's Race: 'I Love Muslims,' Says Republican; 'Muslims Hate You,' Says Dem
Democrat Abdul El-Sayed told GOP candidates for governor, during a May 10 primary debate, “Muslims hate you.” As incendiary as that might sound, it was only one indication of the gubernatorial candidate’s vision of turning a national spotlight on Michigan’s 2016 governor’s election.
As PJM reported, Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a Republican primary candidate for governor, has questioned El-Sayed’s familial connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We also have somebody that I will likely be running against in the general election, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, whose parents apparently have ties to Muslim Brotherhood back in Egypt. This is scary stuff,” Colbeck said. “They’re already advertising him as the first Muslim governor. So this is a big deal.”
Colbeck didn’t back away from the allegation during the May 10 debate that included gubernatorial candidates from both parties. But he did say, “I love Muslims. It’s not an issue.”
Colbeck also said again that El-Sayed had “affiliations” with the Muslim Brotherhood because the Democrat was part of the Muslim Students Association when he was a student at the University of Michigan.
“The issue is terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood,” Colbeck concluded.
While El-Sayed, a practicing Muslim, did not respond to Colbeck by name, he did call on the Republican candidates to come out against Islamophobia and racism.
And then the former executive director of the Detroit Health Department said, without mentioning Colbeck, “You may not hate Muslims, but Muslims hate you.”
Colbeck complained in a LinkedIn post a few days later that while other candidates and media outlets had criticized what he’d said about El-Sayed and the Muslim Brotherhood, no one had denounced El-Sayed for his “Muslims hate you” statement.
“Please note that while I have not made ANY racist or bigoted comments, the same cannot be said about comments directed at me. Today's media peddles more than Fake News...they peddle free propaganda for the Democratic Party,” Colbeck said in the post.
El-Sayed has apologized for the “Muslims hate you” comment. He has also promised not to be dragged into a debate over the Muslim Brotherhood again.
“We’re starting to call certain people more American than others and that’s really dangerous,” he said.
El-Sayed has argued his victory in the August primary would send a message that would resonate throughout the nation because of his religion and his progressive stance.
“I’m like a 215-pound middle finger to Donald Trump,” the Detroit Free Press reported El-Sayed told a Democratic Party audience in April.
“If I win this primary, I want you to think about what happens to this race,” El-Sayed also said during his appearance before the party faithful in suburban Detroit. “This race goes from being a sleepy Midwestern governor’s race to being one of the most important races in defining this moment of the electorate in 2018. That means national coverage, national fundraising and the optics of this race go sky-high.”
Yet, the Detroit Free Press reported El-Sayed was never politically active before he decided to run for governor.
“His contributions to political campaigns are virtually nonexistent and his voting record in Michigan is spotty, mostly because of time away in New York,” the Free Press reported.
El-Sayed was in New York so much more than Michigan that another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Shri Thanedar, challenged his eligibility to run for office because El-Sayed hadn’t voted in Michigan until the 2016 election.
Three other Michigan residents also challenged El-Sayed’s eligibility to run for governor.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections rejected the challenges because El-Sayed never canceled his voter registration in the state.
Even though his challenge was dismissed, Thanedar is much more of an immediate problem for El-Sayed than Colbeck in his quest to be that giant middle finger the White House can’t ignore.
Thanedar, a millionaire running on a progressive platform, leads the Democratic gubernatorial primary field, according to a poll released May 1.
The Detroit Regional Chamber poll had Thanedar in first place with 29.6 percent support. Former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer was second at 26.3 percent. El-Sayed was in third with only 6.6 percent support.
But, then again, Thanedar has his own problems.
A report in The Intercept questioned whether the “Bernie-branded millionaire” who made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry is a true progressive.
And there was a HuffPost report that Thanedar abandoned more than 170 dogs and monkeys at a foreclosed pharmaceutical plant that he used to own.
But Thanedar told the Detroit Free Press he had no responsibility for the animals. Thanedar said what happened to the dogs and monkeys occurred after his former company, AniClin, was taken over by a bank as the result of foreclosure.
"The bank took over (in April 2010) and this thing happened three months later," Thanedar told the Free Press. "What happened in those three months, I have no idea. But people are using this to discredit me, and it's not correct."