Insider: Michigan Democratic gov hopeful signs book deal

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Abdul El-Sayed speaks at a rally Sunday, Aug. 5, at Cobo Center.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed will catalog his experiences growing up as a Muslim American, working in Detroit and stumping on the campaign trail last year in a book set to be released in spring 2020.

“Moral Medicine” will explore the political landscape and how to inject more empathy into American politics, said El-Sayed, whose progressive campaign came up short in his primary challenge of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The former Rhodes scholar and Detroit health director has been working on the book since the end of his primary campaign. The book focuses on a shift from identity-based politics to empathy-based politics, he said.

“This book is about the epidemic of insecurity that I got to see firsthand, and what it will take to rebuild our politics,” El-Sayed said in a statement.

El-Sayed launched Southpaw Michigan, a progressive political action committee helping liberal “down ballot candidates and causes” shortly after his August loss to Whitmer.

As he awaits the book's publication, El-Sayed said he is exploring a couple of opportunities in line with his focus on nonprofit work and public health.  

El-Sayed’s background in public health and progressive politics “are quickly making him an essential voice,” said Jamison Stoltz, executive editor for Abrams Press.

Lawmaker takes job with DeVos

Less than a month after finishing her time in the Michigan House, Republican former Rep. Daniela Garcia has taken a position in the U.S. Department of Education.

Garcia will serve as the director of outreach in the office of Communications and Outreach at the federal education agency led by West Michigan native and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In her new role, Garcia of Holland will direct “interaction with organizations and individuals at the national, state and local levels,” according to a department statement Tuesday.

Garcia served two terms in the state House, where she was a member of the education reform committee and sponsor of Detroit Public Schools bailout legislation in 2016. She lost an August primary bid for a state Senate seat.

Prior to her time in the House, Garcia was an adviser to former Congressman Pete Hoekstra and worked for the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, according to her state House biography.

A graduate of West Ottawa High School, Garcia obtained a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in education policy and administration from Catholic University.

Hopefuls line up for party chair roles

As the state conventions for the Michigan Republican and Democratic parties approach, both groups are preparing to choose new leaders from among familiar faces.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser and Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon both said they would not seek re-election. Dillon’s replacement will be selected at the party’s state convention Feb. 2, while Weiser’s successor will be chosen at the Republican state convention Feb. 22-23.

Gina Barr, a GOP field organizer in Detroit and Wayne County, is among two running to replace Weiser.

Laura Cox, R-Livonia

She announced Monday she’d chosen radio broadcaster John Akouri as her running mate. Barr served as head of the Republican National Committee’s Urban Engagement and Women’s Engagement, while Akouri served as co-chair for the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign.

Running against Barr is former Rep. Laura Cox, a past Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who later was a Wayne County commissioner. Cox is married to former two-term Attorney general Mike Cox.

Cox said Tuesday that Terry Bowman, president of Union Conservatives and an advocate of the state's right-to-work law, would be her running mate.

Considered the favorite for chair, Cox is backed by President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale.

Among Democrats, seven people are running for chair, including front runner Lavora Barnes, who currently serves as the party’s chief operating officer. She served as the Michigan state director for Obama for America in 2012 and worked in the White House office of media affairs during the Clinton administration.

Greg Bowens, president of the Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods NAACP, speaks during a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Grosse Pointe, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, at Grosse Pointe South High School.

Other Democratic Party chair candidates include chemist and political organizer Lisa DiRado, former state Rep. Nancy Quarles, U.S. Navy veteran and Democratic operative Greg Bowens, former Army officer turned mental health consultant Patrick Biange, Rochell Kirby of Lathrup Village, and MD Alam of Detroit.