By Paul Rozycki
In the last week before the Aug. 7 primary Flint saw visits from two of the major candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
The Whitmer campaign meets union leaders
On Thursday Aug. 2 the Gretchen Whitmer campaign led a get-out-the-vote rally at Teamsters Local 332, on Dort Highway. Teamster President James Hoffa, Joint Council 43 President Greg Nowak, UAW Region 1-D director Gerald Karim, and Congressman Dan Kildee addressed the crowd of several hundred, urging a vote for Gretchen Whitmer for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Hoffa reminded those attending that the Teamsters endorsed Whitmer and said, “She will prioritize creating good jobs, fixing our infrastructure and leading our state forward. She has a proven record of fighting for workers.”
During his presentation, Nowak said, “We applaud her for her commitment to repealing the state retirement tax which has been a huge burden on retirees.”
As part of the get out the vote theme, Nina Bugbee, Local 332 president, urged voters to turn out on Election Day, saying “This time around, it is our time to vote and show that democracy, through our vote, can put Gretchen Whitmer in office as a partner to take back Michigan. Today is the day to get out the vote,”
Congressman Dan Kildee led Whitmer’s introduction saying, “She has what it takes to get the job done and I’m proud to join her in that fight,”
When candidate Whitmer took the stage she made her appeal to the workers and union members by saying, “Michigan workers can compete with anyone in the world as long as there’s a level playing field. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves on day one and get to work solving problems. That means fixing our roads, making sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage job, and repealing the Snyder retirement tax.”
During and after the rally, supporters were urged to volunteer for the last weekend get out the vote efforts for the campaign. Over 65,000 Teamsters are members of Joint Council 43, representing 12 local unions, which includes all of Michigan.
El-Sayed, Ocasio-Cortez fill Ferris Wheel
Earlier in the week, on Saturday July 28 Abdul El-Sayed, also a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, held a rally in downtown Flint at the Ferris Wheel building, also urging his supporters to get out and work for his campaign. Speaking to nearly 300 supporters El-Sayed was joined by New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently defeated a senior party leader Joe Crowley in her primary.
Speaking as a member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party El-Sayed supported a $15/hour minimum wage, Medicare for all, and a guarantee of clean water for Flint. He also said that his goal was to “de-Devos” the state’s education system, a reference to Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. As part of his progressive message, he reminded the audience that he had been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, who carried Michigan in the 2016 presidential primary. Though trailing in the polls, El-Sayed indicated that the trend was going his way if his voters would stay active and turn out.
Both candidates stopped in Flint as part of state-wide campaigns. In addition to her Flint visit, Whitmer had campaign stops planned in Detroit, Allen Park, Southfield and Warren. El-Sayed stopped in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Ypsilanti as part of his swing through Flint.
The three Democratic candidates for the gubernatorial nomination are former Detroit Department of Health Director El-Sayed, businessman Shri Thanedar, and former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. On the Republican side, the candidates are Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Senator Patrick Colbeck, Dr. Jim Hines, and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
There is also a contest for the Libertarian Party nomination between Bill Gelineau and John Tatar.
The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 7 and the winning candidates will face off in November.
EVM political commentator Paul Rozycki can be reached at email@example.com.