Southpaw: Boxers or Politicians?

Yusuf Mian | October 12, 2018

Every election cycle, there are candidates who win and candidates who lose. Most of the time, the candidates who lose are forgotten. They often advance their careers by running for a separate office or by writing a book… but not Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

El-Sayed, 33, ran for governor in the 2018 Democratic primary and lost to Senator Gretchen Whitmer. To move forward, El-Sayed decided to funnel the momentum from his campaign into the campaigns of other candidates. It was this goal that prompted him to found Southpaw Michigan. Southpaw Michigan is a Political Action Committee dedicated to helping the candidates whom they believe are best fit for office. They endorse candidates based on their views on environmental justice, campaign finance reform, and more affordable higher education. Southpaw Michigan has already endorsed two candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court, including former Greenhills Debate Coach Sam Bagenstos. They have also endorsed a candidate for attorney general and several candidates for various state house races.

The Alcove examined Southpaw’s strategies, goals, and challenges through an email exchange with Southpaw Michigan Communications Director Amytess Girgis. Obviously, this election cycle is on the forefront of Southpaw’s mind, and Girgis said that in the November Midterms they hope to “inspire, engage, and activate Michiganders to make serious change in electing candidates and causes on the ballots that matter for their everyday lives.” In a time of such divisive politics, however, it can be challenging to inspire voters to stand up for what they believe in. When asked how Southpaw plans to combat this challenge, Girgis said that the organization will “harness the grassroots energy from [El-Sayed’s] gubernatorial run to organize volunteers and offer monetary support” to all of their endorsees. She then added that Southpaw will use volunteers to knock on doors as well as to call and text voters.

In a time when too many politicians seem only to listen to their corporate donors, an organization that is willing to elect candidates by talking to voters and energizing supporters is precisely the type of group that is needed. Whether you agree with the specific ideas and candidates that Southpaw does or not, it is refreshing to see a politician using their platform to aid others rather than to advance their own career.

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