LANSING, Mich.-- State Senator Patrick Colbeck (R), who is running for governor, is under bipartisan scrutiny following remarks that have been considered anti-Muslim.
Colbeck spoke out several times this week about his concerns about Muslims and so-called "jihadist" ideals destroying the country and the government. He associated the Muslim Brotherhood with groups like Muslim Student Association and CAIR, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
Democratic and Republican party leaders have condemned these remarks, along with Colbeck's accusation that gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed (D) has ties to terrorism, as having no place in the race.
“The comments that Senator Colbeck made in the context of one of the candidates I don’t agree with," Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R), another gubernatorial candidate, tells FOX 17. "But what I find most offensive is that Bill Schuette is using the criminal justice system as show trials for his campaign for governor.”
When asked if he thinks Colbeck should drop out of the race, he said that's up to the voters.
El-Sayed says he doesn't respond to bullies.
"One of the things that my parents taught me when I was young was that it’s not my job to defend myself," El-Sayed tells FOX 17. "It’s my job to defend people who are weaker than me or to defend people who are being picked on. I am not a victim. I am focused on the conversation I’m having with Michiganders who have been the victim of a very broken politics.”
CAIR lists in its core principals that it condemns acts of violence and promotes inter-faith dialogue. A spokesperson for the organization, Dawud Walid wrote in a tweet this week that Colbeck is "in full conspiracy mode." He adds "Not only is this not true, a person in the Muslim Brotherhood wouldn’t support recreational marijuana nor gay rights as Elsayed (sic) does."
El-Sayed tells FOX 17 that this type of rhetoric is counterproductive.
“I just don’t think Michiganders care," El-Sayed says. "They’re kind of done with this. It has backfired tremendously every time somebody has tried to make this about identities and I want to have a conversation about ideals and ideas.”
He says he finds his values in the Constitution, which guarantees everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, things that he says too few Michiganders have access to.
“I’ve been to over 120 cities now and no matter where I go, people are asking the same questions and they have nothing to do with how I pray, but what we collectively pray for," El-Sayed says.
Colbeck says he has no plans on dropping out of the gubernatorial race. He also says he has attempted to reach out to the Michigan Republican Party since their criticism of his remarks but they have not returned his calls.