Now-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed faced off in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, and now they’ll both be giving University of Michigan commencement speeches this spring.
As is tradition for sitting governors in their first year, Whitmer will deliver the main U of M address at Michigan Stadium on May 4. Whitmer, who earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees from Michigan State University, did teach at U of M’s Gerald R. Ford School for Public Policy prior to her 2018 election.
“What an honor — and what an incredible opportunity to congratulate these graduates who worked so hard — who are going to go off and do amazing things in our country and our state and our communities,” she said in a video posted on Twitter. “And so I will see you on May 4 and I will say, ‘Go Blue!’ — proudly.”
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) March 11, 2019
Whitmer, who served in the Legislature for 14 years, is the sixth sitting governor to give the U of M commencement address in the last 40 years.
She and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a University of Michigan graduate, have a friendly sports rivalry, just their predecessors did. Former Gov. Rick Snyder holds three degrees from U of M and former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley earned his undergraduate degree from MSU.
El-Sayed will speak at the May 9 University of Michigan medical school commencement. The former Detroit health department head earned his undergraduate degree from U of M. El-Sayed also holds an M.A. and PhD. from Oriel College at Oxford and an M.D. from Columbia University.
In the Aug. 6, 2018, Democratic primary, Whitmer won 52 percent and all 83 counties. El-Sayed was second with 30 percent and Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar finished last with 18 percent.
Whitmer went on to defeat GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette in the Nov. 6, 2018, general gubernatorial election by 9 points, 53 percent to 44 percent.