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El-Sayed’s first ad in Mich. governor’s race features Little Miss Flint

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News

Lansing — Democrat candidate Abdul El-Sayed is going up with his first television ad of the 2018 governor’s race, seeking to boost his name identification while enlisting supporters to join what he’s calling the “people’s summer.”

The former Detroit health department director, polling third in recent surveys of the Democratic gubernatorial primary field, is set to air the 30-second spot on broadcast and cable television stations in the Detroit media market beginning Tuesday.

The commercial includes footage of El-Sayed at a Detroit rally with “Little Miss Flint” water activist Mari Copeny and civil rights activist Shaun King. The self-described progressive discusses his efforts to stand up to “corporate polluters” in Detroit and ensure school children were not exposed to lead.

“I learned then that politician’s doors doesn’t open for you and me, they only open for the corporate paychecks that they take in,” El-Sayed says in the ad. “Who here believes that we need new blood in places like Lansing and D.C.?”

The $150,000 air time buy comes as El-Sayed fights to remain competitive with early Democratic primary frontrunner Gretchen Whitmer and Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar, who has already spent more than $1 million in television ads that have made him the most recognized Democrat in the race.

Whitmer has not yet aired any television commercials but was sitting on more than $1.2 million in campaign cash reserves at the end of 2017, the most recent state disclosure deadline. In the Republican primary, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Attorney General Bill Schuette both began airing ads in March.

El-Sayed launched his “people’s summer” initiative with an April 5 rally at the University of Michigan that featured musician Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. He said in a statement the effort is about “real people” participating a system that has too long been controlled by “corporations and millionaires.”

The 33-year-old Shelby Township Democrat has fought questions over his eligibility for the ballot related to his past voter registration in New York and last week blasted Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat Colbeck for unfounded claims his family has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.