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Michigan Democrats back Stevens over Levin in primary

Members of Levin's family have been in Congress for four decades

Michigan Rep. Andy Levin lost his bid for a third term Tuesday in the 11th District Democratic primary.
Michigan Rep. Andy Levin lost his bid for a third term Tuesday in the 11th District Democratic primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michigan Rep. Andy Levin lost his primary bid for a third term Tuesday to fellow Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens in a battle of the sophomore lawmakers who represent different wings of the party. 

Stevens led the Democratic primary for the 11th District with 60 percent of the vote to Levin’s 40 percent when The Associated Press called the race at 10:46 p.m. Eastern time. 

His loss will mark the first time in more than four decades that a Levin won’t represent Michigan. Levin succeeded his father, former Rep. Sander Levin, when he was first elected in 2018. His late uncle, former Sen. Carl Levin, was first elected in 1978 and served six terms in the Senate.

After Michigan lost a seat through reapportionment because of the 2020 census, Levin opted to run in the 11th District, which includes about 25 percent of the 9th District he currently represents. The new district includes about 45 percent of Stevens’ current 11th District. 

In a statement, Levin said Stevens ran a strong campaign.

“I will support her and work with her and others to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in Oakland County and across Michigan and the United States on November 8,” Levin said.

Levin played up his progressive leanings during the campaign and was supported in kind by the likes of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who held a rally in Michigan for Levin and fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Friday. The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC spent $79,000 supporting him. 

The primary fight also included outside spending by pro-Israel groups that have poured money into Democratic primaries this year. Altogether, outside groups spent $9.9 million on the primary. United Democracy Project, a super PAC funded in part by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, spent $4.2 million supporting Stevens and opposing Levin. J Street Action Fund spent $708,000 opposing Stevens.

While Stevens has said she “unequivocally” supports Israel, Levin, who is Jewish, has said it is a “false choice” to suggest that Palestinians’ human rights and Israeli’s security cannot be prioritized simultaneously. 

The super PAC Women Vote! also spent $3.7 million supporting Stevens and another $325,000 opposing Levin. The group’s donors include EMILY’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America, according to the money in politics website OpenSecrets.

Levin, who was a labor organizer before being elected to Congress in 2018, was an advocate for allowing House staffers to unionize if their office chose to this year. His own staff were among those in eight offices who petitioned to form a union last month. 

Levin supported more progressive proposals like “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal, which Stevens hadn’t signed on to, though they share similar voting records. They split on a 2019 vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which Stevens supported and Levin did not. 

Stevens and Levin have similar stances on abortion rights, and both ran ads focused on the issue. Voters in the district told CQ Roll Call earlier this summer that reproductive rights were top of mind as they were preparing for the primary after the Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade.

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