Politics

Jewish Dems back non-Jewish incumbent in rare primary vs. Jewish congressman – The Forward

A significant Jewish Democratic group is backing a non-Jewish candidate over his Jewish rival in a uncommon contest between two incumbent Democrats. 

The Jewish Democratic Council of America stated it’s “proud to endorse” Haley Stevens over Andy Levin within the main to signify Michigan’s redrawn eleventh Congressional District, which incorporates  Detroit’s northwest suburbs, The contest between two candidates, every elected to the House in 2018, has grow to be a  bellwether in American Jewish politics on this 12 months’s midterm elections.

The incumbent-vs.-incumbent House main is one in all 5 this 12 months, and among the many three through which Democrats face off. Levin has lived within the newly-drawn eleventh District for many of his life, whereas Stevens moved there final November. It is thought of a Democratic-leaning seat. Levin, 61, raised eyebrows when he handed on working in a winnable race within the adjoining tenth District, which incorporates a lot of the neighborhoods he at the moment represents within the neighboring ninth District, however has additionally gained GOP voters. Instead of taking up a fellow Democrat, some in his personal social gathering have argued, he might have received in a District that will now go to a Republican.  

The contest can be highlighting a widening rift inside the Democratic Party over Israel. Stevens, 38, is reasonable and extra affiliated with the extra conventional pro-Israel camp. In 2019 she visited Israel on a visit sponsored by an schooling group funded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. And she was a part of a bipartisan coalition that pushed for the passage of a stand-alone invoice to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome protection system. Levin, who succeeded his father, former Congressman Sander Levin, can be the nephew of the late Sen. Carl Levin. A progressive, he launched laws that may enhance U.S. involvement within the now-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace course of. He’s additionally an ally of Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American congresswoman who calls Israel an apartheid state

Halie Soifer, the JDCA’s chief govt, stated the group endorsed Stevens as a result of she has led on points that matter to Jewish voters. “JDCA does not make endorsement decisions based on whether a candidate is Jewish or not,” she stated, including that Stevens has additionally solid shut ties with the native Jewish neighborhood since she flipped the district from a Republican in 2018.

Soifer stated the JDCA endorsement means no disrespect to Levin, “who has also sought to advocate for many issues of importance to Jewish voters in Congress.”

Along with Stevens, JDCA is endorsing 10 House Democrats for reelection, bringing its whole variety of endorsements this 12 months to 60. JDCA famous in an announcement shared with the Forward that following information studies late Monday that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, enabling states to outlaw abortion, JDCA “is doubling down on efforts to mobilize Jewish voters in support of Democrats in key races across the country.”

JDCA will attain out to Jewish voters — estimated at about 5% of the voters — to go to the polls by way of direct texts, telephone calls and digital promoting, Soifer stated. 

Both candidates obtain exterior Jewish help

The JDCA shouldn’t be the one Jewish group endorsing within the main.

The Democratic Majority for Israel and AIPAC, every of which has fashioned political motion committees to help pro-Israel incumbents, have endorsed Stevens and raised particular person contributions for her marketing campaign. She can be backed by Pro-Israel America, a bipartisan one-issue group. 

Earlier this 12 months, David Victor, former AIPAC president and a Stevens donor, accused Levin of being “arguably the most corrosive member of Congress to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Levin is supported by the liberal J Street PAC and a number of other Jewish colleagues: Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Steve Cohen of Tennessee. 

Contrasting approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian battle 

JDCA not too long ago held a candidate discussion board, through which Stevens and Levin differed over Middle East peace, Iran and combatting antisemitism on school campuses. 

Levin described himself as “perhaps the leading Jewish member of Congress to try to actually take action to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.”

His invoice, the Two-State Solution Act, launched final September, would prohibit Israel from utilizing U.S. taxpayer {dollars} to increase settlements within the occupied West Bank or for annexation, and would enhance funding for humanitarian functions and for civil society teams within the Palestinian territories. 

Stevens countered by saying that the U.S. ought to assist create circumstances that may result in direct talks between Israel and Palestinian representatives, however not push for Israeli concessions. “We are not going to get to a two-state solution by negotiating it as the United States of America or through the U.S. House of Representatives,” she stated. 

At a debate final month, hosted by the Pontiac Community Foundation, Levin slammed Stevens for taking AIPAC’s endorsement after the group got here underneath fireplace for additionally backing Republicans who voted to overturn the election of Joe Biden as president. “This endorsement is solely about members of Congress supporting Israel, and I am proud to unequivocally support the Jewish state,” Stevens responded. 

Internal polls by each campaigns present a detailed race, with Stevens holding a slight edge.




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