Issues | Abdul El-Sayed for Michigan



This movement is about a politics of purpose. I am driven by a core belief in Michigan’s people - our potential and the promise of our future. I believe in what we can build if we unite - from our cities to our farms, from our oldest communities to our newest arrivals, from our Mitten to our Upper Peninsula. We are coming together, right now, for our future.

I was raised in a diverse family. My father, Mohamed was the eldest son of a tomato salesman and an illiterate homemaker in Alexandria, Egypt. He and my mother, Fatten, immigrated to Detroit in search of opportunities they could not have in Egypt. My stepmother, Jackie, grew up in Gratiot County, where her family have been teachers and small-business owners for generations.

I was born and raised in Michigan. I attended public schools. I wore the winged helmet as a lacrosse player at the University of Michigan, one of the world’s great public universities. There I met the love of my life, Sarah, the daughter of immigrants from India and a doctor.

This state has made countless small investments in me and others in my generation - quality education, clean air and water, and an economy that kept my parents employed. But today, state government is failing to make these same investments in our children. Gridlock, unimaginative leadership, and a callous disregard for our most vulnerable have left us with government we cannot trust.

State leadership has failed public schools and a generation of children who attend them. Students who make it to college struggle under the weight of rising debt, choosing to leave Michigan for jobs they can’t find here at home. Others can’t find meaningful training opportunities in the trades. Automation and outsourcing are chipping away at Michigan jobs with no long-term plan on how to bring Michigan’s economy into the 21st century.

Brutal emergency management has left some of our cities and school districts in shambles, and in Flint, has poisoned thousands in one of the greatest man-made public health disasters in recent history. Nearly a million Michiganders may lose access to a doctor, while thousands more have never even had the ability to see one. State government is cutting corners on our environment - including our Great Lakes - to protect the profits of corporate polluters. Our infrastructure is crumbling under our feet. And too many Michiganders live in fear of discrimination.

As a doctor, an educator, and a public servant, my work has always been about creating opportunities for real people. At 30, I began rebuilding the Detroit Health Department after it was shuttered when Detroit faced emergency management. I saw the pain of failed government firsthand. I grieved with mothers of babies who passed far too early. I witnessed the horror of parents learning their child has been afflicted by lead poisoning. I sat with seniors, struggling with worsening diabetes or heart failure, who couldn’t afford the care and medications they needed.

In response, we got to work building a Health Department whose purpose was to improve the lives of real people. We enrolled thousands in health insurance under Obamacare. We built the SisterFriends program to reduce infant mortality and provide pregnant teens with support and guidance. We led the fight to hold polluters accountable and forced Marathon Petroleum to invest$10 million to reduce emissions in Southwest Detroit. We built a program to give glasses to every child who needed them, delivered at school, free of charge. And we became the first city to test schools for lead, evaluating all 360 schools in only six months.

I envision a Michigan where every child can flourish. That means all Michiganders have access to dignified work that pays a living wage, to safe and reliable housing, to affordable childcare, and to the freedom to live as they see fit. That means every child has access to an exceptional education and a pathway to a fruitful career.

For me, this is personal. Michigan built me. Michiganders are my family, my friends, and my neighbors. We deserve bold, inspired, and forward-thinking leadership - the type of leadership that has made Michigan the bastion of the automobile, the birthplace of the middle class, and the Arsenal of Democracy.

I am standing up for our state. I hope you will stand with me, for our future.



Jobs and Prosperity

The fruits of the economy have been enjoyed by too few for too long. Across the state, thousands struggle to find jobs or have stopped searching altogether. Michiganders, like millions across the nation, have been left behind as multinational corporations with no allegiance to Michigan replace human labor with robots and leave to exploit cheaper labor overseas. Rising income inequality is hurting our families, keeping parents from providing for their children.

Workers’ rights matter. No one should work a full week and not be able to feed their family. As governor, I will fight to make work pay by raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring access to paid sick days, and making high quality childcare affordable and accessible to equalize the economic playing field. Unions have long led the fight for workers in Michigan and beyond. That is why I support labor’s right to organize, and I oppose ‘Right to Work’ legislation. Finally, free trade agreements have harmed Michigan workers. They should be negotiated to benefit the real people who drive America’s economy rather than the elites who grow their profits at our expense.

I believe in small business. Every dollar spent at a locally-owned and operated business creates prosperity here in Michigan. We must grow entrepreneurial opportunities across Michigan and even the playing field so that small businesses can flourish. As a millennial, I have a unique appreciation of the value that young entrepreneurs bring to a flourishing economy. I will fight to ensure that our greatest asset - Michigan’s minds - have a place in Michigan to build our future.

I will work to build a 21st century economy for Michigan’s future, rather than its past. For the last eight years, Lansing has tried to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. But to prosper, we must get ahead of the curve. We must take what has made Michigan the backbone of American industry – skilled workers, strong minds, and ceaseless ingenuity – and use it to attract new and emerging industries. Whether that means building the future of transportation through new models for infrastructure; connecting artisans and farmers across the state with buyers in our cities; or creating meaningful upskilling opportunities for emerging technologies and industries like renewable energy, I am focused on preparing Michigan for what lies ahead.

At the same time, I will work to protect Michiganders from unchecked automation that threatens to displace them from industry. While automation is a clear part of the 21st century and benefits consumers, it must support workers - not just the bottom line.

Quality infrastructure creates prosperity. However, our current model of infrastructure development costs billions of dollars and does not generate enough wealth to pay for itself. We need a 21st century infrastructure plan that will help our economy grow. That means fixing our roads and bridges and investing in rapid regional transit and public transit that will connect us and help us attract and keep talent.

Finally, I recognize that many face discrimination because of their gender, particularly when it comes to pay. To close the wage gap, I support policies that value—rather than punish—the choice to care for our families, including universal paid sick leave, parental leave, and robust financial support for childcare. I know that policies like these are not enough. Too often, women are locked into industries that pay them too little to live. As governor, I will invest in programs that connect women to well-paying careers in nontraditional fields and pursue wage increases in sectors dominated by women, whenever and wherever possible.

Clean Government

Michiganders deserve a government they can trust, where the will of the people takes priority over the interests of corporations and lobbyists. But today, approval ratings for state government are at an all-time low. We need accountability and transparency in Lansing.

Michigan is among the most gerrymandered states in America. I oppose gerrymandering by either party and support bipartisan redistricting, giving every Michigander an equal vote.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) forces government to release documents related to their day-to-day work. However, neither the governor nor the Senate are exposed to FOIA, allowing them to operate in the dark. I would push to subject the governor and Senate to FOIA, and would commit to full transparency according to FOIA guidelines beginning on my first day in office.

Special interests have our politicians in their pockets. Michigan’s campaign finance laws allow special interest groups to contribute more than eight times as much per year to candidates for office in Michigan’s legislature than the federal legislature. We need campaign finance reform that limits the amount that corporations and special interests can contribute to campaigns.

The brutal emergency management laws currently on the books strip Michigan communities of their right to govern themselves and have driven crises like Flint. As governor, I will repeal the emergency manager laws in favor of more a sustainable approach to supporting Michigan’s municipalities that ensure local control.


Young Michiganders need to graduate with real skills that prepare them for further education and for success in tomorrow's economy. Yet, today, less than half of children in Michigan are proficient in math and science and fewer are prepared for college.

We must reinvest in our public education system. As Governor, I will fight to guarantee every Michigan child access to the best public education imaginable, from pre-K to postgrad. This includes renewed investment in school infrastructure, so that children are learning in safe, healthy environments. This includes establishing high quality, universal pre-K. And this includes getting the profit motive out of public education – putting our children’s futures back in the hands of families, educators, and communities, rather than private interests.

Higher education is one of Michigan’s most important engines of mobility. But right now, it is too expensive for too many. I will fight to build a higher education system that supports both college and vocational education. That starts with improving support for Michigan’s 28 community colleges and 15 public colleges and universities. It means reducing college debt through innovative funding programs and guaranteeing tuition-free higher education for students from families making less than $150,000 a year. And it means building future-oriented accredited training opportunities that combine the best of the traditional college model with the best of the apprenticeship model. Our higher education system must prepare our youth to thrive – no matter what path they choose.


I, like many of you, watched in shock and horror as Governor Snyder and his army of accountants poisoned thousands of kids in Flint, putting pennies over public health. As Detroit’s Health Director, I was called in twice alongside other public health experts to advise about how to clean up the mess. But the Snyder administration still hasn’t listened. They have yet to create a comprehensive lead management program to give every kid who is poisoned the best shot at recovery. They have yet to make lead testing available to every kid in Michigan who gets public health services. And, they are only beginning to invest in the necessary upgrades to our state’s water infrastructure.

I believe in universal healthcare. Our state must ensure that Michiganders have access to healthcare without worries – about premiums, coverage, or the GOP’s latest antics. Creating a viable state-level single payer program for Michigan is crucial to ensuring that we can care for our families. That is why my administration would fight for public insurance to provide affordable healthcare access to every Michigander.

But insurance coverage is only the first step. Public health services across the state are severely underfunded, and as a result, many residents struggle with preventable diseases even when they are insured. We must strengthen our public health systems to ensure access to crucial services, including preventive care, contraceptive care, and mental health care.

I support a woman’s right to choose and know firsthand the critical work performed by Planned Parenthood and others to provide women the care they need to control their bodies. But reproductive justice goes beyond healthcare. That is why I will fight to ensure that women have access not only to reproductive health care, but to high quality jobs with good pay and accessible and affordable childcare.

It is time to tackle Michigan’s critical health challenges - including lead poisoning and the opioid epidemic - head on. That means making serious investments to fix and fortify our crumbling water infrastructure in Flint and beyond and improving access to care for people suffering the disease of drug addiction. We must also make it easier for our seniors to access critical health care and long term care.

While career politicians have exploited the poisoning of Flint’s children for political points, I have the expertise to give public health in Michigan the overhaul it needs.

The Environment

Protecting public health also means protecting our environment - particularly in a state with 21% of the world’s fresh water. But proposals to slash funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and defund efforts to clean up the Great Lakes mean that Michigan’s environment is more vulnerable than ever. Our state government must lead the charge to protect our air, water, and wildlife. As Governor, I will push towards two goals: access to quality water for all and infrastructure investment for clean, sustainable energy to do our part to slow climate change.

I will increase funding for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, restoring its ability to protect our air, water, and earth. I will also work to establish state-level restoration funding for our Great Lakes, so that we can ensure that our water is clean, monitored, and protected. In addition, everyone deserves access to the water they need for basic drinking, cooking, and hygiene, and we have to create a cost schedule that ensures that every family has access to a basic minimum amount of water for these daily uses.

Any effort to protect our natural resources is incomplete without an equal commitment to green energy and a clean economy. That is why I will accelerate efforts to invest in renewable energy infrastructure and to incentivize clean manufacturing. I will also support community organizations and small businesses advancing renewable energy and developing green jobs.

Equity & Inclusion

For too long, too many Michiganders - women, people of color, immigrants, people who identify as LGBTQ, those with disabilities - have been excluded from equal rights and treatment under the laws of our state. As an Egyptian-American and a Muslim, I know personally what that can feel like. But I also know that Michigan’s strength comes from the diversity of its people - and that the vast majority of Michiganders believe in equity and reject discrimination.

We must unite as Michiganders if we hope to face the challenges that lie ahead – challenges that have left so many of us tired and afraid. Whether it is the fear of being treated differently by law enforcement, the fear that one’s work will not be compensated equally because of their gender, or the fear of being discriminated against by businesses - we must address barriers to equity, so that we can devote our energies to building our future.

I will do everything within my power as Governor to reform our penal and immigrations systems, both of which have torn families apart for far too long. In Michigan today, a young black man faces a higher likelihood of going to jail than going to college, in part because of unfair policing practices and sentencing policies. I support comprehensive criminal justice reform that focuses not only on restorative justice and community policing, but on reforming the ways that we hire and train our police. We must also end private operators' financial incentive to fill jails and penitentiaries by assuring that all of Michigan’s jails and prisons are publicly-operated.

As the son of Egyptian immigrants, I understand the value of our immigrant communities across Michigan and the United States. In Michigan, immigrants drive our agricultural output and offer crucial healthcare services across the state. As governor, I will support our immigrant communities and fight for a pathway to citizenship. It's time for Michigan to be a leader and consider what it can do to be a 'Sanctuary State'.

I demand the strict separation of church and state, and would seek to uphold and defend that separation. I will defend the right of all Americans to pray as they choose to pray (or not to pray), just as I will oppose any discrimination by businesses and public institutions against our LGBTQ community.

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