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Republican, Democratic candidates clash over ethics, racism

Rick Pluta
Candidates for governor, from left: State Senator Patrick Colbeck (R), Doctor Jim Hines (R), Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D), Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), Shri Thanedar (D), Abdul El-Sayed (D), Brian Calley (R).

The four Republicans and three Democrats running for governor appeared on a stage together for the first time today.

The biggest flashpoint came when Republican state Senator Patrick Colbeck said one of the Democrats has connections to Muslim terrorist groups. Abdul El-Sayed fired back that other Republicans should join him in condemning the allegation.

“What frustrates me more is not that you have blatant racism on the part of certain people, but what frustrates me more is, in the words of Martin Luther King, is that one of those dangerous aspects is not when bad people speak out, it’s when good people fail to speak out,” El-Sayed said.

For his part, Colbeck doubled down.

“I’m not going to sit there and be silent when there’s a genuine concern out there in our society that we need to be addressing, and just because nobody wants to talk about it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it,” he said.

The Michigan Republican Party has condemned Colbeck’s allegations. But Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, and Doctor Jim Hines did not. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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