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Former Detroit health department director and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed on Monday continued to distance himself from Mayor Mike Duggan, telling residents in Michigan’s largest city that he “deeply” disagrees with his former boss’ policies on water shutoffs and demolitions.

“I’m probably the only one up here who’s actively stood up against Mike Duggan,” El-Sayed said during a Detroit town hall forum also attended by three other Democratic candidates for governor. “I’m not trying to get his endorsement.”

An audience member asked El-Sayed why he didn’t do more when he served in the Duggan administration to stop the kind of water shutoffs he says he would put a moratorium on as governor.

“I’m saying here on the stage that the city did not do enough,” El-Sayed said.

His comments prompted a tense exchange with former Detroit police officer Bill Cobbs, who noted that El-Sayed said in an April 2017 television interview that he expected Duggan to endorse him.

“For him to sit here now and say that is not an endorsement he sought or expected is a lie,” Cobbs said at the forum.

El-Sayed left the Duggan administration to run for governor in early 2017. The 34-year-old former Rhodes Scholar said Monday his decision was partially driven by his frustration working under Duggan, who coasted to re-election in November.

“I challenged him so much I got kicked out of meetings,” he said.

Colbeck to join Dems at forum

Several Democratic gubernatorial candidates are set to meet again in Detroit next month – and at least one Republican will join them.

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township, confirmed Wednesday he’ll participate in the “People’s Governor Forum” on March 3 in Detroit.

The conservative lawmaker is the only GOP candidate to confirm for the event so far. Democrats Gretchen Whitmer, El-Sayed and Cobbs have also agreed to attend, said organizer Erik Shelley of Michigan United.

While it’s being billed as a non-partisan event, forum sponsors include liberal organizations that typically align with Democrats, including some local unions, several “indivisible” groups and Medicare for All Michigan. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois, is also expected to participate as a special guest.

“My hope is that these very civically engaged audience members will see how my principled solutions can bridge the divide between left and right,” Colbeck said in a statement.

The forum, set for 1 p.m. at Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, is expected to focus on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers’ rights.

Colbeck, who rode a wave of tea party support into office eight years ago, is considered a long shot for the GOP nomination but has been aggressively campaigning.

He is also joined Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and obstetrician Jim Hines for a series of recent GOP town hall forums. Attorney General Bill Schuette has declined to attend the forums first proposed by Calley, calling them a political gimmick organized by his opponents.

Science PAC to air ads

The group 314 Action, which backs candidates with science or technology backgrounds, says it bought roughly $500,000 worth of ad air time in the Detroit media market for the weeks leading up to the August primary election.

314 Action is a nonprofit and political action committee aiming to recruit and train more scientists to run successfully for public office, hoping to help Democrats win back the U.S. House.

314 Action has endorsed tech entrepreneur Suneel Gupta in the crowded Democratic primary in the 11th District, where Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Trott is retiring.

Joshua Morrow, the group’s executive director and co-founder, said it’s also keeping an eye on former state Rep. Ellen Lipton, a chemist running to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin in the 9th District, and Matt Longjohn, a physician hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Fred Upton in southwest Michigan.

“Scientists are used to collaborating. They don’t care what party you’re from – they want to solve a problem,” Morrow said.

“We need people who are used to being innovative and problem-solvers, rather than folks who are career politicians who start out as county commissioner, go to state rep then to Congress. We need to start getting people with real-world experience.”

Levin endorses Greimel

Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin has endorsed state Rep. Tim Greimel in the Democratic primary race for Congress in the 11th District, where Trott is retiring.

“Tim earned my endorsement not only because he knows how to get things done, but also because I can trust him to fight for our values,” Levin said in a statement provided by Greimel’s campaign.

“Tim is the kind of thoughtful leader we need in Washington. From his work to establish Healthy Michigan, which secured healthcare coverage for over 650,000 Michiganders, to raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation, Tim has consistently delivered for Michigan’s hard-working men and women.”

Greimel of Auburn Hills has represented Michigan’s 29th District since 2012 and previously served as an Oakland County commissioner and on the Rochester Community Schools’ board. Levin, the Detroit Democrat, also started on the local level, serving in on the Detroit City Council for eight years before his election to the Senate in 1978.

Other candidates in the Democratic primary include Haley Stevens, Fayrouz Saad, Daniel Haberman and Gupta.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Melissa Nann Burke

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