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Abdul El-Sayed clears eligibility hurdle in bid for Michigan governor

August 2018 update: Gretchen Whitmer wins Democratic primary for Michigan governor

The legal cloud that for months has surrounded Dr. Abdul El-Sayed’s candidacy for Michigan governor has apparently lifted.

Last week, the Michigan Court of Claims dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Democrat seeking a ruling on his constitutional eligibility to run for governor because of his out-of-state voting history.

El-Sayed filed the request with the court at the behest of the Michigan Democratic Party, whose chairman, Brandon Dillon, issued a statement after the ruling saying “we consider this matter settled and Abdul to be eligible.”

Earlier this month, the state Bureau of Elections dismissed challenges from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar and others who argued that El-Sayed’s stint living and working in New York made him ineligible to run for governor this year.

Bridge Magazine first reported in early February that prominent Democrats worried about El-Sayed’s candidacy because voting records showed he was registered to vote in New York as recently as 2015.


The Michigan Constitution requires gubernatorial candidates to be “qualified electors” of Michigan for four years preceding the election.

Even though El-Sayed registered and voted in New York while he was in medical school, he was never removed from the voting rolls in Michigan. In a ruling, Michigan Elections Director Sally Williams noted that El-Sayed was continuously registered in the state since 2003.

“Dr. El-Sayed’s voter registration record could not have been canceled unless the state received specific written confirmation that he had changed his residence for voting purposes or until two consecutive federal general elections passed without him voting in Michigan,” Williams wrote. “Neither of those necessary events occurred.”

In a fundraising appeal Friday, El-Sayed campaign manager Max Glass told supporters “this is what vindication looks like” and took a dig at Thanedar, a millionaire Ann Arbor entrepreneur. The other Democrat in the primary, Gretchen Whitmer, opposed efforts to challenge El-Sayed’s eligibility.

“The claims were always baseless. And they never had any legal standing,” Glass wrote.

“But the powers that be and a millionaire fraud felt threatened by the momentum our movement has built, and by the ways we’re challenging the status quo.”

This week, the Intercept, a progressive website, quoted Thanedar as saying that El-Sayed should have told donors “that his eligibility could be questionable.”

Candidates still could file a lawsuit about the eligibility issue. On Tuesday, Bridge asked Thanedar if he planned one. He said he was in a meeting and referred comment to a spokesman who did not return messages.

Also, some Democrats still worry that, should El-Sayed win the August primary, Republicans would file suit and throw the election into chaos.

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