Dearborn, Michigan Mayor Abdullah Hammoud

Dearborn, Michigan Mayor Abdullah Hammoud speaks at a conference on September 10, 2023.

(Photo: Abdullah Hammoud/Facebook)

Dearborn Mayor Among Wave of Michigan Officials to Join 'Uncommitted' Campaign

"We must hold our president accountable and ensure that we, the American taxpayers, are no longer forced to be accomplices in a genocide that is backed and funded by the United States government," said Mayor Abdullah Hammoud.

More than 30 state representatives, mayors, city council members, and other elected officials in Michigan on Wednesday announced they had joined a grassroots effort to push voters in the crucial swing state to send a clear warning to U.S. President Joe Biden in the upcoming Democratic primary by voting "uncommitted."

The elected officials, including Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, are joining the Listen to Michigan movement to signal to Biden that they will not commit to supporting him in the November general election until he uses his vast influence to stop Israel's slaughter of civilians across Gaza by calling for a cease-fire and ending his administration's financial backing of the Israel Defense Forces.

Hammoud, who garnered national attention late last month when he refused to meet with Biden during a campaign stop in Michigan, said he and other officials in the state "demand a better future and we intend to make our voices heard on February 27," encouraging voters to "pledge to vote 'uncommitted' in the upcoming presidential primary election."

"Under the direction of President Joe Biden, our government has failed to act to protect the lives of innocent men, women, and children," said Hammoud. "Worse yet, President Biden and his administration have suggested that there is an exception to this rule when it comes to Palestinian lives."

The Listen to Michigan campaign, led by Palestinian American community organizer and Dearborn resident Layla Elabed, officially launched on Tuesday with advocates noting that the Arab American population—more than 211,000 people—in the key state is a powerful voting bloc whose demands for a cease-fire Biden is ignoring at his own peril.

"We cannot support his financial backing of actions in Gaza that conflict with our core values of peace and humanity," said Elabed. "Voting 'uncommitted' is our way of demanding change and the vehicle to return our political power back to us... Many of us voted for Biden in 2020, including myself. We got out the vote for him and helped him win the state of Michigan. But now we are saying, 'Count us out, Joe.'"

Along with Hammoud, state Reps. Abraham Alyash (D-9), Alabas Farhat (D-3), and Erin Byrnes (D-15) signed a letter dated Tuesday, expressing their intention to vote "uncommitted" on their primary ballots. Wayne County Commissioners Sam Baydoun and Al Haidous, four Dearborn city councilmembers, and more than a dozen school board members from several cities were also among the officials who signed.

"We must hold our president accountable and ensure that we, the American taxpayers, are no longer forced to be accomplices in a genocide that is backed and funded by the United States government," reads the letter. "These are not empty words, they signify our steadfast commitment to justice, dignity, and the sanctity of human life, which is greater than loyalty to any candidate or party."

Listen to Michigan pointed out on its official website that "uncommitted" primary campaigns are not unheard of in the state. In 2008, when then-Democratic primary candidate Barack Obama's name did not appear on ballots after the state moved its voting date up, "his campaign mobilized young and Black voters to vote 'uncommitted' as a symbolic (and real) rejection of Hillary Clinton," garnering 40% of the vote.

The growing support for the effort among dozens of elected officials, said Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid, is "a big deal."

"This is BIG!" added Lansing-based climate and housing organizer William Lawrence. "All Michigan folks—this is real, this has legs. Make sure your friends know to vote uncommitted."

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