Why did Michigan’s Democratic political dynasty fall?

No one. was excited about the competition,” he says. “These two members worked together. Everyone in Oakland County will be given a higher priority. both of them Members of Congress But it was like the movie ‘Highlander’: ‘There can only be one.’

The race attracted national money in part because of Levin’s key views on Israel — he supports the Jewish state, but sometimes sponsors his own U.S. lobby, sponsoring a bill in 2021. , which limits the country’s ability to use U.S. foreign aid in the West Bank, and routinely speaks out in support of Palestinian rights. And much of the coverage of the race has followed predictable lines — that the millions of dollars spent by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Stevens’ behalf were decisive, or that it was a Bernie-versus-Hillary-style matchup. (Leoncamp certainly sees it that way: In a statement to OlxPraca, spokeswoman Jenny Baier said that “the outcome of this race … was clearly driven by a 5-to-1 margin in outside, dark-money spending.” left voters inundated with mail and advertisements favoring our opponent.”)

But the full scope of what happened in the race is more complex and more straightforward.

Oakland County, Mich., is ground zero for the shift in suburban politics across the country, as once-rich Republican strongholds shift from red to purple to blue. The race reflects the changing nature of Democratic coalitions at the national level, but also how important and difficult it is to gauge local dynamics, even as politics become more nationalized.

Rather than a national-style ideological battle, this was a race in which the two candidates agreed on almost everything.

“I don’t think it was a massive rejection of Andy or what he stands for,” says Woodward, who endorsed Stevens last week.

Organized labor was split between two campaigns: many locals supported Stevens, while Lyons, who had spent decades as a labor organizer, had the support of most unions, including many large National and statewide organizations (SEIU, CWA, AFT Michigan, etc.) pro-abortion rights groups were divided. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund also took the odd step of dually endorsing both candidates. Oakland County’s leaders were also torn: Both Leon and Steven are wildly popular among party workers and elected officials.

Instead, the race moved on a few key points: new district lines that gave Stevens a substantial advantage, Leon Camp’s misinterpretation of new suburban Democratic voters, Oakland Democrats’ preference for electing women and the Supreme Court. Decade trend. The decision of the court Dobbs – which mobilized the genre by abolishing the guaranteed right to abortion.

The Stevens-Lyon collision Initially organized by a map.

After the 2020 census, Michigan lost a seat in Congress, and for the first time, a nonpartisan commission was tasked with drawing new district maps — barring incumbents from taking into account. was The three final proposed maps produced by the commission were named after trees: apple, birch and chestnut.

Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation were nearly unanimous in preferring the Birch map — which, among its advantages, would include Lyon’s southeast Oakland base and a large portion of Macomb County, creating a potentially Democratic seat. Stevens Lyon could have survived the primary. publicly endorsing the map and urging the commission to adopt it, according to multiple sources with first-hand knowledge of the dialogue.

But there was one notable holdout: Rep. Brenda Lawrence, the former mayor of Southfield, whose district covers parts of southern Oakland County and about half of Detroit, and is the only black member of the Michigan delegation. According to people with knowledge of the matter, Lawrence disliked the way the Birch map cut off the predominantly black Southfield from Detroit and connected it to rural western Oakland.

“Brenda’s biggest problem [with the Birch map] It was always Southfield: ‘You’re scaring black voters,'” according to one participant in those conversations, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “While that was a valid criticism. , a lot of people looked at that end — if it was a more competitive district, it would be a tougher election for him.”

Lawrence preferred to group Southfield in a predominantly black district anchored in Detroit, as in Chestnut’s map. As a result, the delegation did not throw its weight behind any of the options being weighed by the redistribution commission.

It’s not clear whether endorsing either map makes a difference — “the idea that the Democratic delegation neutral A senior party official told me that what the commission wanted to do was foolish, but the end result of the process was the adoption of the Chestnut Plan, which grouped large parts of the seats of Lyons and Stevens together, in the Lawrence district. Retained Southfield while adding some sections. In a predominantly black district along Detroit’s west side.

Lawrence finds the map he likes – then chooses not to choose again. (The congresswoman’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this article.)

Another irony unfolded on Tuesday night: the result of the Chestnut map in the general election arena Neither The Detroit seat is likely to elect a black member of Congress in 2023. Rashida Talib Switched districts to run for the new Southfield-Detroit-Dearborn seat, opening the Democratic nomination for the 13th District, which was won by Indian-American businessman and state representative Shri Thanidar. (Indeed, it’s quite possible that the only black member of the next Congress from Michigan will be a Republican representing a new toss-up district in heavily white suburban Macomb: John James.)

Lyons and Stevens chose to run in Oakland County’s new, safely Democratic 11th District, a new seat created from three existing seats: Stevens, Lyons, and Lawrence. But it wasn’t an even fight: A little more than 40 percent of Stevens’ old district was in the new 11th, compared to about a quarter of Lyon’s old district. The rest were expelled from Lawrence’s seat.

Stevens had the advantage from the start. And early on, when Lawrence chose to endorse him over Lyons, it gave Stevens a big boost among black voters in the new 11th — voters who overwhelmingly backed Stevens on Tuesday. (He beat Leon in every precinct in Pontiac, the new seat with the largest number of black voters.)

“Once the die is cast along the lines, it never turns out well,” says Amy Chapman, who ran Michigan for Barack Obama in 2008 and lives in the district. are and personally support Leon.

“You have racial dynamics, you have gender dynamics, and then it’s a math problem,” Woodward says. “I think it’s incredibly sexy to focus all of these national resources and these kinds of AIPAC games. [role] But I think the fundamentals of this race have not changed.

On the afternoon of On Tuesday, December 28, the redistricting commission adopted the Chestnut map. Within two hoursBoth Lyon and Stevens announced they would run in the 11th District. The initial battle was on.

By mid-January, David Victor, former president of AIPAC, Wrote to Jewish donors in the district In support of Stevens. The primary, he wrote, “presents a rare opportunity to defeat the worst member of Congress on US-Israel relations.”

It was an odd way to refer to Levin, who is not only a practicing Jew, but a former president of his synagogue and scion of the most successful Jewish political dynasty in Michigan history. But these facts are precisely why some of the more aggressive supporters of Israel in American politics were so outraged by, for example, its enduring friendship with Talib and A sympathetic defense of Ilhan Omar’s statements Repeating anti-Semitism about Israel. (“We All There’s a lot to learn,” Levin said.) Coupled with Levin’s stance on Israel, he had a target on his back. (“AIPAC can’t stand the idea that I’m in Congress. “Be the strongest Jewish voice … standing up for the human rights of the Palestinian people.” he told MSNBC’s Mehdi Hassan last week.)