A far-left millennial who hoped to bring socialism to Michigan lost his bid for office on Tuesday.
Abdul El-Sayed, a 33-year-old socialist who had campaigned to become the country’s first Muslim governor, lost his gubernatorial primary to front-runner Gretchen Whitmer earlier this week.
Socialist candidate loses Michigan primary
El-Sayed, who is a doctor and the former head of Detroit’s health department, lost the race by nearly 20 points to Whitmer, who captured half the vote. El-Sayed split the other half with Shri Thanedar, a self-funded millionaire who also ran as a progressive.
Trump-backed Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette beat out Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to become the Republican nominee. If Whitmer beats him in November, she will be the second female governor in Michigan’s history.
El-Sayed followed up his defeat by calling for unity ahead of the November election. Speaking to supporters at a concession rally, El-Sayed promised that the socialist movement was not over and urged supporters to rally behind Whitmer.
“I like to think that even though I’m not going to get the opportunity to serve, now we’ve ignited a belief of what’s possible in young people,” El-Sayed said at the Cobo Center in Detroit on Tuesday.
“We have an opportunity,” he added. “Do not walk out of here saying anything like, ‘Abdul or bust.’ Tomorrow, we turn around and we turn this into a movement to… beat Bill Schuette in the fall.”
Socialism fails to win over Midwest
Michigan’s gubernatorial primary race was widely seen as a battle between the centrist, Clinton-ite wing of the Democratic party and the younger, insurgent, socialist wing that supported El-Sayed. His defeat marks a blow to socialism and the ultra-left upstarts in the party who embrace it.
El-Sayed was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 14th district who became the face of the party’s ultra-left wing after a shocking primary win in June. Whitmer, a former Michigan state senator, was the establishment favorite.
El-Sayed ran on a socialist platform championed by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, which includes as core goals Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, and tuition-free college. Far-leftists viewed El-Sayed’s candidacy as a test of whether socialism could sell in the Midwest, where disaffected working-class voters in states like Michigan abandoned the Democrats in 2016 to vote for Donald Trump.
The socialist hopeful who had been called “the New Obama” trailed in public polling — and funding — throughout the primary season. Even last-minute support from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, who stumped for the candidate at rallies just days before the primary, was not enough to put him over.
Socialist movement stumbles
El-Sayed’s defeat was far from the only bad news for Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez this week. He was just one of several candidates endorsed by the socialist duo to stumble in a blitz of early August primary races.
Fayrouz Saad, who was running to become the nation’s first Muslim congresswoman, finished fourth in her race in Michigan’s 11th congressional district; Cori Bush lost her primary race in Missouri’s 1st district; former Sanders staffer Brent Welder lost his race in Kansas’s 3rd district; and 30 year-old Sarah Smith lost in her race in Washington state’s 9th district.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez think the midwest, and the entire United States, is ready for socialism. They were just proven wrong.