Political Focus: Michigan’s interesting Democratic gubernatorial primary

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

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The Michigan governor primary is nearly upon us, and there are three Democratic candidates currently in the running. As a historic swing state, governor races are actually quite competitive and knowing each of the candidates going into the primary is important voter knowledge. So here I have assembled a comprehensive and extremely opinionated list of all three candidates, some with large red flags, others with real stances and policies. For the sake of brevity and because it’s easier to mock people than to find their strengths, we will start with the one I have found to be the least qualified.

First up is Shri Thanedar, a 63-year-old entrepreneur running on the Democratic ticket. His running as a Democrat should be taken with the smallest grain of salt, as his reason for running as a progressive is definitely not progressive. His lack of political background and self-made millionaire status is reminding Democrats of Trump’s rise to popularity, and their comparisons are not far off. Shri has financed his campaign nearly completely by himself, running $3 million worth of ads and labeling himself as a “fiscally savvy Bernie [Sanders].” If that last sentence sounds oxymoronic, you would be correct. While Shri appears to be a progressive, his history of attending GOP rallies for Marco Rubio and donating to senator John McCain make his popularity in the Democratic party extremely worrying.

Next up is Gretchen Whitmer, a far more qualified candidate running as a “safe Democrat.” Not to say that’s a bad thing—her stances on women’s rights are progressive and positive, and her plans for combating the opioid epidemic are focused on treatment rather than punishment. She has served as the Ingham County prosecutor since 2016, and her experience in government before that included being the Michigan state senate minority leader. Her experience in politics is diverse and gives her policies some backbone. But her policies are not all sunshines and rainbows, as evidenced by her reasons for not supporting single-payer healthcare. Interviews with her have her citing that it is “not a real option right now” for financial reasons, but this may be a personal matter for her. It seems that her father was the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from 1988 to 2006, and a fundraiser was hosted for her by this same company. Hard to support progressive healthcare when they’re the ones helping you run for governor.

Rounding out the Democratic ticket is the extreme progressive Abdul El-Sayed, having somewhat of an underdog story. His polling numbers are not reaching the levels of the “safe” Whitmer vote, but his candidacy should not be ruled out. His progressive stances on women’s right to choice and supporting treatment-based options for the opioid epidemic are similar to Whitmer’s, but beyond that, his policies take a hard progressive stance. He supports the $15 minimum wage, previously made famous by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He also supports public education and wants to give low-income residents free college access. He has the experience, and he knows his stuff—it would seem as though the only thing holding him back is his shaky claim to candidacy. He was placed under scrutiny for voting in New York in 2015, and Democrats are scared that if he were to win the primary that Republicans would throw his campaign into chaos by claiming he was ineligible to run. Only time will tell if this hurdle is enough to stop his campaign.