October 3, 2022

Rep. Hayley Stevens decisively won a contested Democratic primary in Detroit’s northern suburbs on Tuesday, delivering a crucial victory for the pro-Israel lobby and other establishment groups that have spent millions of dollars on its behalf.

Stevens defeated the Representative. Andy Levina progressive known for championing union rights and the Green New Deal, who was was drawn into the same area as Stevens after the 2020 Census. When the race was officially called late Tuesday night, Stevens was ahead of Levin 20 percentage points with almost all the votes counted.

Levin, unlike Stevens, is Jewish, but has drawn the ire of pro-Israel advocates for supporting additional US pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, including limiting how Israel can use American help.

Stevens’ victory in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District also speaks to her strengths as a candidate, the overall strength of a female candidate following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning federal abortion rights and the moderate preferences of many Democratic voters in the relatively affluent suburb of Oakland County, just outside Detroit.

“It shows the importance of money, the importance of women candidates, the importance of lobbying — and also the importance of being present in more districts and people being satisfied with their representation,” said Matt Grossmann, political scientist at Michigan State University.

In a statement to the press, Levin congratulated Stevens on a “strong campaign” and promised to help her and other Democrats win their elections in November. Stevens will face the Republican nominee Mark Ambrosemilitary veteran and financial analyst.

As a result of nonpartisan redistricting, the new boundaries of Michigan’s 11th have made the electorate much more Democratic. President Joe Biden would hold the new seat by 20 percentage points. Stevens’ win in the primary makes her the heavy favorite to return to Washington for a third term.

The fight between Stevens and Levin has rightfully captured the nation’s attention — and the outcome of the fight will have national implications.

Levin, a fourth-generation Michigander, is akin to the Jewish civil right in metropolitan Detroit. For decades, Sandy’s father represented suburban Detroit in the House and his late uncle Carl represented Michigan in the Senate.

But while that pedigree helped Levin succeed his father in Congress in 2018, it was also a key reason pro-Israel donors lined up against him This year. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which boasts a particularly active membership in Oakland County, prioritized Levin’s defeat on the grounds that his proud Jewish identity and self-proclaimed “love” of Israel created a structure permission for non-Jewish progressives to question Israeli policies without fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.

AIPAC’s new super PAC, generically named the United Democracy Project, won all but one of the races on which it has spent significant money this cycle. The team finally spent more than $4.2 million to help Stevens prevail.

EMILY’s List, which supports pro-abortion-rights women candidates and has ties to official Democratic Party organs, also spent more than $3.1 million on behalf of Stevens. Progressive super PACs supporting Levin, including the more liberal pro-Israel group J Street Action Fund, stepped in to match the money in favor of Stevens, but ultimately only matched a fraction of their rivals’ funds.

Stevens talks with Pontiac City Councilman William Parker Jr. at New Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, where Parker is the pastor, on July 23.
Stevens talks with Pontiac City Councilman William Parker Jr. at New Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, where Parker is the pastor, on July 23.

Brittany Greeson for HuffPost

Muslim-American grassroots groups like Emgage, and the left-leaning Jewish group Jews for Andy, have also tried to counter the influence of big money with face-to-face conversations in people’s homes. Ultimately, however, their efforts failed.

US policy in Israel and Palestine is it is not a high-level concern for the vast majority of voters, and the United Democracy Project-sponsored ads, which do not mention Israel, reflect that reality. However, Levin’s triumph is likely to make progressive candidates and lawmakers think twice before seeking to make US policy in the region more equal.

While most of the voters moved by the AIPAC-aligned super PAC’s ads probably weren’t thinking about Israel, AIPAC argued that Democratic candidates should take from Tuesday’s results that their base favors strongly an American policy of unconditional support for Israel.

“Democratic voters sent a clear message that being pro-Israel is both sound politics and smart politics,” AIPAC said in a statement. “They have demonstrated that it is entirely consistent with their progressive values ​​to support candidates who are on the side of the Jewish state.”

Levin and his allies too expressed concerns ahead of the race that the AIPAC-aligned super PAC, which received a pair of seven-figure checks from major Republican donors, could provide a model for other conservative interest groups hoping to influence Democratic primaries.

“The comparison is not so wild that if Elon Musk decided he wanted to destroy the auto industry here in Michigan, he could start an independent expense and do the exact same thing,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis. .) at a joint press conference with Levin on July 22.

Of course, many political observers in the Detroit area believe that Stevens would have defeated Levin without any of that outside help. She is being characterized as an over-achieving candidate who simply has more experience running and winning competitive elections. She triumphed over an establishment-backed Democratic candidate in her 2018 primary, flipped the GOP-held district later that cycle, and retained the seat in 2020 despite a surge in the Republican vote.

Those skills were on display during the match against Levin. As of mid-July, Stevens’ campaign, which continued to receive the most corporate PAC donations, had raised about $2 million more than Levin’s.

“She’s a better fundraiser and a better campaigner, more in tune with where voters are in her district and the issues they really care about,” said a prominent Michigan Democrat who supports Stevens, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect business interests. relationships. “Maybe she wins against a lesser candidate, but Haley is a juggernaut.”

In addition, Stevens’ tenure as chief of staff for then-President Barack Obama’s auto industry bailout—and video praising her ― designed for ideal TV advertising content. And while Levin’s credentials as an abortion rights advocate are undisputed, Stevens took advantage of the opportunity to speak out in defense of abortion rights as a woman with direct involvement in the matter.

Levin also made some mistakes that may have cost him support. With permission from the family trust of the late John Lewis, a black civil rights hero and longtime congressman from Georgia, Levin showed old footage of Lewis eulogizing him in a June TV commercial. Two black members of Congress who support Stevens, including retired Detroit Rep. Brenda Lawrence, condemned the adarguing that he implied that Lewis had endorsed Levin’s current campaign. The United Democracy Project went on to run the Detroit News article citing Lawrence in the Facebook ads.

“Although [Lewis] he might have supported you then, you don’t know who he’s supporting now,” Steve Brady, a retired surveyor in Pontiac who is black and planned to vote for Stevens at a July 23 church picnic, told HuffPost. people took offense to it, like, ‘How dare you?'”

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, so did Levin caused ridicule for posting photos of one of his daily yoga poses on Twitter. In the tweet, which Levin deleted within an hour, he spoke of needing to “turn inward” for a while during a “moment of wildly conflicted emotions.”

Finally, Levin never fully shut down the complaints of critics who argue that Democrats in the state would be better off if he chose to run in Michigan’s neighboring 10th Congressional District.

Stevens talks with Pontiac City Councilwoman Melanie Rutherford at New Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac.
Stevens talks with Pontiac City Councilwoman Melanie Rutherford at New Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac.

Brittany Greeson for HuffPost

The race for the 10th would be fraught with the risk of general election defeat for Levin. Former President Donald Trump would carry the new Macomb County-centered seat by just one percentage point. And, as Levin pointed out, he currently lives in the new 11th District.

But supporters of the idea note that Levin represented much of the new seat in his current district and argue that his family name remains popular in right-leaning Macomb.

Melanie Rutherford, a Pontiac City Council member who supports Stevens, blamed Levin for allowing John James, the Republican candidate in Michigan’s 10th District, to run for an open seat. He predicted that James would win now, but that he would have lost to Levin.

Levin “is giving this idiot a seat at the table, and all he had to do was buckle down and work a little harder,” Rutherford told HuffPost at the July 23 church picnic.

Levin tried to subtly counter that accusation in his statement about the results of the race, arguing that AIPAC would have gone after him in a different area.

“Unfortunately, I was … the target of a heavily Republican-funded campaign aimed at defeating the movement I represent, wherever I spoke. I will continue to speak out against the corrosive influence of dark money on our democracy. Forward.”

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