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MI-Gov: Democrats running for Michigan governor have their first debate. Here's what happened.

Image source: TheBlaze

Democratic Michigan gubernatorial candidates gathered Wednesday night for their first televised debate of the midterm election season. The debate lasted an hour.

Who are the candidates?

Former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed, businessman Shri Thanedar, and former state Sen. and one-time Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Gretchen Whitmer — the three Democratic contenders — were in attendance.

An April poll from the Glengariff Group had Thanedar currently favored to win the party nomination at 30 percent. Whitmer was at 26 percent, and El-Sayed sat at 7 percent.

In March, the Detroit Metro Times reported that Whitmer is the establishment favorite, and Time reported in May that she is “widely considered the Democratic front-runner.”

You can read more about the backgrounds of El-Sayed, Thanedar, and Whitmer — as well as the GOP candidates — here.

What happened during the debate?

According to the Hastings Tribune, two of the Democratic candidates — El-Sayed and Thanedar — decried corporate financial influence on state politics.

The third — Whitmer — "refused to be pulled into the criticism" and cast herself as "an experienced, bipartisan problem-solver," according to David Eggert of The Associated Press.

Some questions asked included how the state should address high auto insurance premiums, infrastructure issues, and educational funding.

If elected, Whitmer said she promised to sign a law within her first 100 days in office to reduce auto insurance premiums.

During the debate, El-Sayed took a page out of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) book and said that Sanders showed Michiganders "a way forward that didn't force us to take money from the corporations, didn't force us into a position where we've got to sell our soul so they buy off our policy."

Also, he repeatedly mentioned an "unnamed candidate," according to Eggert — who he believed to be Whitmer — "taking money from corporate political action committees such as one affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan."

Whitmer's father was CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Thanedar, who has poured more than $1.9 million of his own money into his campaign, according to the Detroit News, said that he voted for Sanders, and criticized Lansing's "pay for play" culture.

What did they agree on?

According to Eggert, all three candidates unanimously agreed in opposition against the migrant children crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

All three candidates also supported an initiative on the November ballot that would legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes.

El-Sayed, Thanedar, and Whitmer will face off in a debate one more time before the Aug. 7 primary. The second debate is scheduled on July 19.

You can watch Wednesday night's debate in the video below.



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