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Detroit group, council leader Sheffield back Sanders

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield and an organization that advocates for workers and people of color in Detroit have thrown their support behind Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The Friday endorsements came as the democratic socialist fights for African-American votes in Tuesday's Michigan primary. 

Sanders "represents the best chance for a paradigm shift in how the government represents all the people of our great nation,” Sheffield said in a statement. “From treating health care and access to clean safe drinking water as a human right, to ensuring that billionaires pay their fair share, to his plan for education that gives low-income families greater access to opportunities, Sen. Sanders is the best hope for a better and more morally responsible America."

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders has proven over the years that he is “in solidarity with working-class black and brown communities,” Detroit Action said in a statement. His policies on Medicare for All, student loan debt elimination and federal reforms related to crime, housing and economic justice are in line with the group’s agenda, the statement said.

“We believe that a vote for Sen. Sanders is a strategic intervention into the Democratic primary system and against neoliberal economic policy and the political status quo that candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden represent,” said Branden Snyder, executive director for Detroit Action who was recently named vice chair of the state leadership committee for the Sanders campaign.

“While we believe Sen. Sanders would move us much closer to a country where everyone has the freedom to thrive, our endorsement recognizes that no candidate is perfect and that we must continue to hold them accountable," Snyder said.

The endorsement from Detroit Action is one of the latest for the Vermont U.S. senator in the Detroit area, where many local leaders have endorsed his opponent former Vice President Joe Biden. The self-defined democratic socialist has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit.

The group, which initially supported both Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has plans to contact 40,000 Detroit residents ahead of Michigan’s Tuesday primary and 275,000 ahead of November's general election, according to the statement.

Mary Sheffield, Detroit City Council Pro Tem, addresses the crowd.

The endorsement comes as Sanders plans four Michigan rallies over the weekend in Detroit, Dearborn, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. He also has a televised Monday evening town hall with Fox News.

Sanders won Michigan's 2016 primary in an upset over Hillary Clinton. President Donald Trump narrowly won Michigan over Clinton by 10,704 votes. 

A Detroit News/WDIV-TV (Local 4) survey of 600 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters earlier this week found Biden leading Sanders 29% to 22.5%. The poll had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com