Democratic and Republican Gubernatorial Candidates

Photo of Democratic and Republican Michigan Governor Candidates
Photos Courtesy of Respective Campaigns

Abdul El-Sayed (D)

Abdul El-Sayed is a newcomer to politics. He holds a doctorate degree from Oxford University, and a medical degree from Columbia University medical school. He is a professor of public health. Following Detroit’s declaration of bankruptcy, El-Sayed was hired to manage Michigan’s newly privatized Health Department. He held the position from 2015 until February 2017 when he announced his candidacy for the gubernatorial race.

As stated on his campaign website, if elected governor, El-Sayed’s plans include action to be taken on gun safety, water policy, and the future of both Michigan’s cities and rural areas.

Abdul El-Sayed’s gun safety reform focuses on six steps:

  1. Prohibition of sale or ownership of “weapons of war” or any weapons that expand fire rate

  2. The deletion of background check evasion

  3. Adding domestic abusers to Michigan’s list of prohibited purchaser provisions

  4. “Require the Michigan state police and local law enforcement to disarm individuals who become prohibited purchasers after purchasing a weapon, being issued a handgun purchase license, or receiving a concealed carry permit”

  5. The return to “country gun boards” which would be the last step of approval over issuing concealed carry permits. The country gun board would help utilize caution into the concealed pistol permit procedure.

  6. Forbidding the open carry of firearms in public buildings and registered private establishments, Abdul El-Sayed states that, “Under this new system, business owners could enter their establishments into a state registry if they do not wish to allow open carry. And nobody should be able to carry a weapon onto school grounds”.

El-Sayed recently unveiled his Michicare healthcare plan which will provide publicly financed health insurance to all Michigan residents under age 65. Michicare would cover a comprehensive set of benefits based on the essential health benefits outlined by the Affordable Care Act, allow Michiganders to choose a primary care provider to help direct their care, eliminate co-pays and deductibles for medically necessary services, and decrease overall healthcare costs.

Following his announcement that he will run for office, El-Sayed faced challenges to his eligibility to run for the gubernatorial office based on residency. The challenges were rejected by the Michigan Bureau of Elections last monthstate in May 2018.

El-Sayed is driven by a core belief in “Michigan’s people our potential and the promise of the future.” El-Sayed plans to raise minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, reforming auto insurance to reduce costs while also developing a plan to rebuild Michigan’s roads and bridges, creating free tuition for families that earn under 150k.

The Mirror News reached out to El-Sayed for comment but did not get a response.

Dr. Shri Thanedar (D)

Shri Thanedar is a shining example of the American dream. A rags-to-riches boy who went from the slums of India, to sleeping in his car while attending University of Akron, to becoming a millionaire, to losing nearly everything in the recession, to retiring briefly, to launching Avomeen, a fast-growing company, reclaiming his wealth.

Q: What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Dr. Thanedar: “I don’t come from privilege, the other candidates did, I grew up in poverty. I am 63 years old and I bring a lot of real world experience to this job. I have run a small business for 26 years, I have a PhD in chemistry, and an MBA. I have academic skills and I understand running businesses. I lived in India for 24 years of my life and I have lived in poverty. I understand where 21% of Michiganders living below the poverty line come from. At the same time, I created businesses worth $65 million and 150 employees. I created wealth for myself and lost that wealth in the Great Recession and recreated wealth. I lost my wife to mental health issues when my children were 4 and 8 years old. I have dealt with ups and downs. I have dealt with adversity.”

Q: What are your views on guns in schools?

Dr. Thanedar: “Zero guns in education institutions. That means metal detectors, that means no guns with teachers. I want to put more money into school funding so that we can use modern technology, better surveillance, key card access, better control of who comes on campus and who leaves. Whatever technology we can use. If necessary I would have an armed guard, that would be the only exception I would have, of having someone holding a firearm. Safety is the most important thing. That means we need to fund it right.”

Q: What are your plans for the state’s infrastructure needs?

Dr. Thanedar: “The infrastructure commission that the governor instituted said that we would need to invest about $4 billion a year into MI infrastructure. Fixing the roads, power grids, water systems, mass transportations, lead out of pipes, bridges. For us to be a top-notch state we need to have top notch infrastructure we are not going to attract business. For us to do that we need money. The bigger question is having the will to invest and the will and vision to rebuild Michigan. We really need to rebuild Michigan. The republicans have let it deteriorate. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and they let it fall apart. We cannot go on like this, we need to invest.”

Q: Where would the money come from?

Dr. Thanedar: “I would do a graduated tax structure because the businesses need to pay for some of the infrastructure improvement and it will benefit the businesses. We can't tax working poor and middle-class families, so the money has to come from the rich, the ultra-rich, and the corporations. I would propose a 30-year $30 billion bond. I would service the bond with money coming from the graduated tax structure, some of the money for corporate giveaways like the $4 billion we tried to give to Amazon and Amazon refused and said to fix our education, fix the infrastructure, and create a skilled workforce. It was a wake-up call. It told us that the current approach, the Rick Snyder approach, is not working. We need a new direction for Michigan. We essentially need a U-turn. The last seven years we had band aid solutions from the Governor.”

Q: What would you like to say to our readers?

Dr. Thanedar: “What I want to say to the young people is that I want them to stay in Michigan and achieve their American dream. It seems like our young people are leaving the state. We lose a lot of talent. We really need to think about how does that happen? How do we reverse that trend? We can only do that by increasing the quality of life in Michigan. We can do that by forgiving college debt, so that young people want to stay in Michigan. Their college debt should be forgiven. I want to give tax incentives to young people who stay in the state, not only if they stay in the state but they start a business and create employment. I want their college debt to go away faster. I want to make community colleges tuition free and any families that make $150,000 a year or less, I want to give them a free year of college. I want to make education more affordable. If we invest in education, it would be the best thing we could do.”

Gretchen Whitmer (D)

Gretchen Whitmer is no stranger to politics. She served as a state house representative from 2001 to 2006, and as a state senator from 2006 to 2014. While serving in the Michigan Senate, she was minority leader from 2011 to 2014, the first woman in the state to hold the position. Most recently, Whitmer served as interim Ingham County Prosecutor.

Q: Currently under review with the Michigan Supreme Court is if Michigan law permits school boards to set school policies regarding guns on campus. What are your views?

Whitmer: As Governor, I would veto any legislation that would allow guns in schools. As a mom, I want my daughters to be focused on biology, not the quickest way to get out of a classroom. We need to find common ground and pass common sense gun legislation, and here are the steps we should take to do that:

  1. Not allow guns in our schools (open or concealed), unless the person is a law enforcement professional.

  2. Ensure universal criminal background checks.

  3. Allow for extreme risk protection orders.

  4. Establish effective waiting periods for gun purchases.

  5. Prohibit gun possession for violent crimes, including those with felonies or misdemeanors for domestic violence and stalking convictions.

  6. Ban bump stocks that increase rate-of-fire on semi-automatic weapons.

  7. Increase resources for safety in schools.

Q: Since Proposal A, Michigan has primarily tied funding for schools to property taxes resulting in school districts having to rely increasingly on special millages to fund basic functions. What is your view on how public education is funded in the state and why?

Whitmer: My education plan focuses on solutions for fixing Michigan’s broken school finance system that don’t require a constitutional amendment, such as converting to a weighted foundation allowance to address the costs of special education, reversing cuts to the School Aid Fund and eliminating the $100-plus million in SAF money being spent on the general fund. We also need to secure funding, so all students have the wraparound support they need at school, like counselors, social workers, school nurses, school security, healthy meals and safe transportation.

Q: What is your position on the Flint water crisis, and what are your plans for ensuring residents of Flint have access to safe water?

Whitmer: There’s no reason that the state that’s home to 21 percent of the earth’s freshwater should have a community full of people who can’t bathe their children or give them a glass of water at the dinner table. I have an infrastructure plan that will expedite the replacement of lead pipes across the state, so every community has clean, safe drinking water. Flint will be a top priority during the first 100 days of my administration. I am committed to fully repairing the damage in Flint and rebuilding the trust in the community.

Q: What are your views on immigration reform and the changes that have been championed by the Trump administration?

Whitmer: Michigan should be a place that people move to from all around the world in search of opportunity. No matter where someone comes from or what zip code they settle in, they should know that they can earn a good living, so they can support their family and retire with dignity in Michigan. They should know that their kids will get a quality education that prepares them for success. I’m ready to work with everyone who wants to make Michigan a more welcome and inclusive state and work to keep families together, and I’ll take on anyone who wants to stand in the way.

Brian Calley (R )

Brian Calley is the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Michigan. He was elected in 2011 and reelected in 2014. Calley has worked alongside Michigan Governor Rick Snyder since 2011. He has previously served as member of the state House of Representatives representing the 87th District

Much of Calley’s platform is centered around a continuation of Snyder’s work, and can be summarized by his campaign slogan: “continue the comeback.” He remains steadfast that Michigan is experiencing an economic resurgence and is now a “model for the nation.” Calley has stated that he is in favor of creating a “competitive, simple and fair” tax climate, and pushed for the revocation of the Michigan Business Tax, a tax reform he had voted into law prior to his term as Lieutenant Governor. Calley is also against common core and believes that it should be replaced by a more “flexible, locally controlled educational system,” as he states on his website.

Calley holds strong family values and has stated publicly that family and faith are the “cornerstones of [his] life.” Calley also holds pro-life beliefs, stating that “Life is precious and made in the very image of God.” Calley has been endorsed by the Right to Life PAC, and, as stated by Michigan Planned Parenthood, has voted against providing abortion coverage in state health plans and voted against providing emergency contraceptives to sexual assault victims. Calley is an adamant supporter of the right to bear arms and supports lawful gun ownership. According to information gathered by, Calley has received an “A” rating by the NRA.

Due to Calley’s role in Snyder’s administration, he, as well as Snyder, have seen intense criticism due to their mishandling of Flint’s water crisis. The city is still dealing with 2014 disaster. Calley is currently under criminal investigation for his role in the contamination of Flint’s water.

The Mirror News reached out to Calley for comment but did not get a response.

Patrick Colbeck (R)

Patrick Colbeck, first elected to the chamber in 2010, is a member of the Michigan Senate representing district 7. Colbeck previously served as Majority Caucus Chair. He is unable to run for re-election to the state Senate in 2018 because of term limits.

Q: What makes you stand apart from the other candidates?

Senator Colbeck: “I think the simple answer is I am the only one talking about solutions. A lot of the other guys talk about the problem. I have an engineering background and I actually have probably the broadest sweep of solutions out of any other candidate for governor right now.”

Q: What are your plans for gun control?

Senator Colbeck: “Support for the Michigan and the US Constitution. I think part of the problem right now with school shootings must deal with the fact that schools are designated as “Gun Free Zones” so the psychopaths that go in there have no fear of anyone firing back. The fact of the matter is 98% of mass shootings occur in gun free zones and we need to put an end to those (gun free zones), we need to get back to the basics of our constitutional rights and understand that a bad guy isn’t going to be held back by a piece of paper. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Q: What are your plans for the improvement of the infrastructure?

Senator Colbeck: "Focus on the roads because I think that’s the thing on most everybody’s mind and when we look at the condition of our roads, we have plenty of money, that’s not the issue, the issue is that we are not focused on quality. I have a road that was fixed in Canton, my area, six months ago and it already needs repair. The focus needs to be on quality road construction, I’ve identified a road construction program that would extend the life of our roads by three years that would cost just a little more than what we spend today.”

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to the students and staff at Henry Ford College?

A lot of folks have become disillusioned by our government, partly because of the officials we elect to serve us are serving their own self-interest over the interest of others and I think that needs to stop. What you will see with me is the restoration of appreciation for the core principles such as the government works for us not the other way around."

Jim Hines (R)

Dr Jim Hines is a newcomer in politics. Hines spent four years in the Central African Republic, where he managed two mission hospitals and 20 urgent care facilities. He has a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, he is a licensed pilot, and he rides a 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Glide. Hines served as the chief of medical staff at Covenant Healthcare. He was the owner of a seven-physician medical practice, and most recently served as president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

As highlighted on his campaign website, Hines acknowledges that Michigan’s government needs to supply the people with answers for the Flint water crisis and Michigan’s budget. “As a fiscal conservative, I want to keep taxes and regulations under control, decreasing them whenever we can. But I also want to be practical. I realize that there might be a need, as a last resort, to increase them in order to fulfill our financial obligations,” Hines shares.

Outlining his plans for gun control, Hines states that as governor, he will protect the right to bear arms. He states that the assumption that banning guns will not keep them out of the hands of criminals is reasonable ,ad that as crime rates and terrorism increase, there is need for law abiding citizens to prepare to protect themselves, their families, and their property.

On immigration, Hines believes that tough border control measures and extensive vetting of immigrants wishing to enter the United States. :While immigrants should always be welcome in this country, they must be carefully vetted to assure that we are protecting our citizens and legal immigrants from terrorist acts” he states.

Concerning Michigan’s health, Hines is in favor of free market healthcare, giving Michiganders the right to choose. In addition to giving Michigan’s people the individual right to choose. Hines has developed a focus on healthcare that is about the individual needs of the people and giving the people the right to determine those needs. In addition, Hines has gone further to cement his dedication to the people sharing that he is refusing campaign money from political action committees with ties to special interest groups to eliminate bias in his standing.

The Mirror News reached out to Hines for comment but did not get a response.

Bill Schuette (R )

Bill Schuette is the current Attorney General of Michigan. Prior to his election to office, he was an attorney and a former justice on the Michigan Fourth District Court of Appeals. In his bid for the gubernatorial office, Schuette has received an endorsement from President Trump.

As stated on his campaign website, if elected Schuette plans to “cut taxes, regulations and wasteful spending” to improve Michigan's economy and bring back high paying jobs. Schuette plans to promote vocational education to create viable pathways for both college graduates as well as high school students ready to enter the job market.

Schuette champions his experience as attorney general and has made promises to address and solve criminal issues that grip the state. Schuette plans to tackle the opioid crisis by creating a “special criminal unit” to target the distribution of opioids around the state. The attorney general acknowledges the fact that Michigan cannot “arrest its way out” of the opioid crisis and plans to limit prescriptions and support federal education and treatment programs. Schuette has also made supporting victims of sexual abuse and trafficking one of his primary concerns, stressing the need for continued DNA sexual assault kit testing.

As reported by NBC’s Tracy Connor, as Attorney General Schuette placed special Independent Counsel William Forsyth in charge of investigating Michigan State University during the Larry Nassar sexual assault trial. The investigation was centered around uncovering what knowledge MSU staffers had of the crimes. Schuette is the target of an ongoing lawsuit that alleges that the attorney general is misusing his office to run for governor.

As Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press reports, the lawsuit filed by an employee of the liberal group Progress Michigan specifically accuses Schuette of using finances and state employees from the attorney general’s office to support his campaign. A spokesperson for Schuette dismissed the lawsuit saying it was "just another example of a liberal group that has nothing better to do but file lawsuits and throw everything (including the kitchen sink) at the Attorney General."

The Mirror News reached out to Schuette for comment but did not get a response.

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