Detroit Health Commissioner jumps in the race for Michigan Governor
WHITMORE LAKE, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - A new candidate is jumping in the race for Michigan Governor.
On Saturday, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed will announce in Detroit that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the state's top job.
Tonight our Political Reporter Nick Minock sat down with Dr. El-Sayed for an exclusive interview.
In this Whitmore Lake home, Dr. El-Sayed is setting his sites on something big.
It's the home he lived in with his grandparents when he attended school at the University of Michigan before he became a doctor and the Detroit Health Commissioner.
"My grandma and grandpa are a lot cooler than anyone I'd be living with," said El-Sayed as he recalled that living with his grandparents during his time in college brought him more joy than living in a college town with roommates his age.
Now Dr. El Sayed is looking to move into the Governor's residence.
"I never woke up when I was a little kid and said I want to be Governor. I said I want to doctor. That's because I care about people."
As a Democratic candidate for Governor, Dr. El-Sayed says he'll defend Obamacare and promote "Healthy Michigan."
"I know what it is like to sit across from a patient who is struggling to pay for their health care," he said.
As Governor, he says he would reform public health and get away from treating state government as a business.
"In a moment where a Governor and his accountants want to cut costs and then poison 9,000 kids in a city that has already seen its fair share of pain, that is a huge problem," El-Sayed said when referring to the Flint water crisis.
In addition to making health care more affordable, Dr. El-Sayed says his campaign will focus on bringing more jobs to Michigan through investments.
He says he'll also fix public education, a top priority for the other Democrat in the race, former State. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer was the first major candidate to become an official candidate for Governor.
Sources close to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee say he's close to making his decision.
It's a possible three way race that could get heated.
On the Republican side, Michiganders haven't seen much action.
Political insiders expect Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to jump in the race.
"I think a lot will be made of what faith I am," said Dr. El-Sayed.
As a Muslim American, he says he wants to get beyond the questions of how you pray and if you pray.
"And asking a bigger question about what you pray for," said El-Sayed. "I believe in an America that is big enough to look all different kinds of ways. Whether you are black or you are Latino or Asian or you are a Muslim woman who wears a scarf like my wife, this country if big enough to include us all, and it has always been, and that is what makes us so special."
El-Sayed was born and raised in Michigan. He became a Rhodes Scholar, earning a doctorate from Oxford University and a medical degree from Columbia University.
Abdul lives in Detroit with his wife, Sarah, a mental health doctor.