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US: Andy Levin loses primary election in race flooded with pro-Israel money

Aipac quick to claim victory in the race, after pro-Israel group's Super PAC spends more than $4m in election against the progressive Jewish congressman
Levin, a Jewish American congressman and a self-proclaimed Zionist, is a congressman from one of the most prominent Jewish families in American politics.
Levin, a Jewish American congressman and a self-proclaimed Zionist, is a lawmaker from one of the most prominent Jewish families in American politics (AFP)

US Congressman Andy Levin has lost his primary election to fellow incumbent Democrat Haley Stevens, following a turbulent race that saw millions of dollars from pro-Israel groups funding negative ads against Levin.

Aipac immediately claimed victory over the race, where it backed Stevens, a moderate Democrat with pro-Israel views. Over the past few months, the United Democracy Project, an Aipac-affiliated Super PAC, has spent more than $4m in negative advertising against Levin in the race.

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"The choice in this race was clear: Congresswoman Stevens is a solid, consistent champion of the US-Israel relationship while her opponent is not. The pro-Israel community united behind Congresswoman Stevens while her opponent embraced support from the most persistent and hostile critics of Israel," Aipac said in a statement before the race was officially called.

Levin, a Jewish-American congressman and self-proclaimed Zionist, is from one of the most prominent Jewish families in American politics. His father Sander Levin served in the US House of Representatives and his uncle Carl Levin was a US senator.

Both he and Stevens were elected to Congress four years ago in separate districts, but redistricting led to a rare member versus member primary battle.

Levin, 61, drew the ire of pro-Israel groups like Aipac following his introduction of a bill, the Two State Solution Act, which sought to block the expansion of Israeli settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, and prevent US funding from aiding Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

In January, former Aipac president David Victor sent an email to a potential Stevens donor saying that Levin was "arguably the most corrosive member of Congress to the US-Israel relationship".

The race is another victory for Aipac and the UDP, which has so far spent around $30m in this year's election cycle. They have been on the winning side of 10 elections around the country. The UDP Super PAC, however, is now 7-2 in the elections it has poured money into.

The group also spent more than $4m in a congressional race for the 13th district, but the candidate it backed, State Senator Adam Hollier, lost to State Representative Shri Thanedar.

The money being spent by these groups has been condemned by many progressive Democrats, namely because these groups have been receiving funding from Republican donors and the groups have been endorsing Republicans that refused to certify the election of President Joe Biden.

The massive spending campaign builds on a rift between groups including Aipac and the Democratic Majority for Israel, and other pro-Israel groups like J Street, which have backed a number of progressive candidates including Levin.

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