On the heels of poll results showing progressive candidate Abdul El-Sayed is pulling ahead in Michigan's Democratic gubernatorial primary race, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced he would rally voters in the state in support of El-Sayed this weekend.
"As governor, Dr. El-Sayed will fight for a government in Lansing that represents all the people, and not just wealthy special interests," Sanders said last week. "Under Abdul's leadership Michigan can help lead the nation in guaranteeing healthcare 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."
In a statement late Tuesday, El-Sayed welcomed the backing from Sanders. "I am honored and humbled to have the support of Senator Sanders in this race," he said. "Bernie Sanders is one of the country's most important political leaders and the progressive standard-bearer, and I'm thankful that the Senator has recognized that there is only one progressive running for Governor of Michigan."
He added, "Bold ideas like single-payer healthcare and tuition-free and debt-free college have been pushed to the forefront of our political conversation because of the work that he has done in Michigan during his historic primary win in 2016. I look forward to carrying that mantle forward to solve problems for Michiganders as Governor."
A survey by Change Research showed on Tuesday that El-Sayed was just 5.8 points behind former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and was ahead of businessman Shri Thanedar, after weeks of polling far behind his opponents.
It’s amazing what the polls look like when you talk to people outside of land lines. It’s neck and neck — even.— Abdul El-Sayed (@AbdulElSayed) August 1, 2018
Before our friends @Ocasio2018 and @BernieSanders jumped in to help. pic.twitter.com/9pdaAotudW
Sanders will speak at two rallies in Detroit and Ypsilanti on Sunday, promoting the former Detroit health director's support for a state-level Medicare for All program, promise of free college tuition for most state residents, and pledge to invest in renewable energy and green jobs.
Sanders is the only U.S. senator who's endorsed El-Sayed ahead of the August 7 primary election. He has also won the support of numerous progressive groups and leaders including the Working Families Party, Justice Democrats, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), filmmaker and Michigan native Michael Moore, journalist Shaun King, and Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan.
Last weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won her own Democratic primary in New York in June with a surprise defeat of a centrist Democrat, also rallied for El-Sayed at five well-attended events, where widespread support for his bold progressive platform was palpable.