Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) defeated fellow incumbent Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) in Michigan’s 11th congressional district in suburban Detroit in Tuesday’s primary, after the issue of Levin’s hostility to Israel became a defining issue in the contest.
The two incumbents were in the second term of their Congress terms. New district boundaries in Oakland County made Levin’s District more friendly to Republicans. Stevens challenged Levin rather than trying to defend his seat.
Levin was also the nephew former Senator Carl Levin (D–MI), who represented Washington state for almost four decades.
Among other statements critical of Israel, Levin proudly led opposition to then-President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East, which subsequently led to the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab states.
Stevens defeated Levin by a wide margin, winning nearly 60% of the vote, according to recent returns at the Detroit News.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on the primary, in which millions of dollars were spent by outside interest groups:
In addition to ending a Michigan Jewish political dynasty that has lasted since Levin’s uncle Carl was elected to the Senate in 1979, Levin’s loss means the wing of the Democratic party that is most critical of Israel is losing its most outspoken Jewish ally in the House of Representatives.
Levin was supported by J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobby. He authored the “Two-State Solution Act”, this session, which would limit how Israel could receive U.S. assistance. This has been AIPAC’s focus. Former director of AIPAC David Victor from Detroit called Levin “arguably most corrosive” member of Congress. He wrote a “Two-State Solution Act” this session that would limit how Israel could use U.S. aid. In January, Victor also stated in a letter addressed to potential donors that his Jewish credentials may cause “less engaged Democratic peers to take [Levin] at His word.”
In the final days of his campaign Levin chose to draw attention to his Israel politics, instead of trying to win the votes that AIPAC sought to mobilise. A rally was held with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and an online event was hosted with Peter Beinart from Jewish Currents. These three men are highly critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. They have been largely ignored by pro-Israeli extremists.
Levin, described by the World Jewish Daily news website as “Israel-hating,” had the support of J Street, a radical, left-wing organization initially backed by George Soros which often opposes the Israeli government and is widely seen as anti-Israel.
J Street’s super PAC, the J Street Action Fund, spent $700,000 on a television ad attacking Stevens for taking donations linked to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most prominent pro-Israel groups in Washington.
The ad criticized AIPAC for supporting Republicans who had supported Trump’s effort to contest the 2020 presidential election. AIPAC has supported incumbents of either party that support Israel, even though they have only just started spending on campaigns directly.
AIPAC’s own super PAC, the United Democracy Project, spent heavily in the primary to support Stevens and to defeat Levin.
In a statement on the result of the primary election, J Street complained about AIPAC’s involvement, and lamented: “While Rep. Levin is a proudly pro-Israel Jewish-American, AIPAC smeared him as ‘anti-Israel,’ ‘fringe’ and ‘hostile.’ They targeted him for holding principled, mainstream views about US diplomatic leadership in the Middle East, and for proposing legislation to help uphold Palestinian rights and secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. PST). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.