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Bernie Sanders endorses El-Sayed in Michigan governor’s race

July 26, 2018 GMT
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FILE - In this June 18, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accompanied by Democrat Ben Jealous, speaks to the crowd during a gubernatorial campaign rally in Maryland's Democratic primary at downtown Silver Spring, Md. Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are campaigning in solidly Republican Kansas as they take their liberal message to an unlikely testing ground before next month’s congressional primaries. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
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FILE - In this June 18, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accompanied by Democrat Ben Jealous, speaks to the crowd during a gubernatorial campaign rally in Maryland's Democratic primary at downtown Silver Spring, Md. Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are campaigning in solidly Republican Kansas as they take their liberal message to an unlikely testing ground before next month’s congressional primaries. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed Dr. Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan’s race for governor on Wednesday, providing a boost to the candidate in the closing weeks of the Democratic primary.

Sanders, who narrowly upset Hillary Clinton in Michigan’s 2016 presidential primary, issued a statement saying El-Sayed would “fight for a government in Lansing that represents all the people, and not just wealthy special interests.” He cited El-Sayed’s support for a “Medicare for all” single-payer health care system and other liberal initiatives such as tuition-free college, a $15 an hour minimum wage and environmental protections.

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El-Sayed, the former health director for the city of Detroit, said he was “honored and humbled” to have the support of the country’s “progressive standard-bearer,” and was thankful that Sanders had “recognized that there is only one progressive running for governor of Michigan.”

El-Sayed is battling former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer and chemical-testing entrepreneur Shri Thanedar for the Democratic nomination. He has trailed in polling, but his Sanders-style brand of liberalism — he denounces corporate money in politics — has won him backing from within the party’s more liberal wing.

Upstart U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist who stunned a 10-term congressman in a New York Democratic primary, will campaign with El-Sayed in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Ypsilanti this weekend. The politically experienced Whitmer has broad support from organized labor, many Democratic leaders and other groups such as Planned Parenthood. Thanedar, a political newcomer who is largely self-funding his campaign, has tried to compete with El-Sayed for the “most progressive” mantle.

Republicans running in the Aug. 7 primary are state Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/David%20Eggert