The Abdul El-Sayed campaign for governor is alleging that there are racist motivations behind questioning whether he is eligible for office because he lived outside the state and was registered to vote in another state.
El-Sayed’s followers are livid. Many of them are from the progressive wing of the Democratic party which supported Bernie Sanders. They charge the leaders of the Democratic Party betrayed Sanders and they believe the same thing is now happening to El-Sayed.
Comparisons are being made to the "birther movement," a popular conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born outside of the U.S.
Joe DiSano, a political strategist with Main Street Strategies and DiSano Strategies, says "there is no comparison."
"Essentially what we're talking about is an issue of ballot access. Is he eligible to run? There is no element of race in this."
Robert Leonard, an attorney for the El-Sayed campaign, has said that the accusation is a red herring, since El-Sayed was born in Michigan, went to school in Michigan, and has always been a Michigan citizen.
But DiSano says, "No one is questioning El-Sayed's connection to the state of Michigan. It is documented. It is true. What the question is, 'Is he eligible to be on the ballot?' And him voting in New York may negate the chain of four years [of Michigan residency] that you are required to be an elector in the state of Michigan."
DiSano says the campaign is promoting misinformation and pushing conspiracy theories.
"And frankly, I believe that campaigns reveal characterb and they also reveal how you deal in a crisis. And I think this response from the El-Sayed campaign that this is a conspiracy from the establishment, it's a red herring, it's birtherism, is a failure of leadership, a failure of character."