Michigan has one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East, but is it ready to elect a Muslim as chief executive? Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a liberal 32-year-old doctor in Detroit, says yes, and he is mounting a surprisingly robust bid to become the nation's first Muslim governor. Democratic leaders are stunned by the sudden emergence of the former Rhodes scholar, who served as Detroit's public health director, in the primary field after he quickly raised $1 million, the AP reports. "No one expected El-Sayed to raise that kind of money—no one," says pollster Ed Sarpolus.
He is one of four viable Democrats and, for now, three Republicans in a race that his party considers a must-win to re-establish itself after eight years of GOP control of state government. Republican incumbent Rick Snyder is leaving after two terms and El-Sayed is hoping to benefit from an energized Democratic backlash against President Trump, who narrowly carried Michigan in 2016, and from the repercussions of a lead contamination scandal in the city of Flint blamed primarily on Snyder's administration. "What better way to send Donald Trump a message than to elect a millennial Muslim guy in a state that he barely took?" says El-Sayed.