PONTIAC, Mich. — A proxy war over Israel policy and other ideological differences is drawing attention to a rare, divisive Democratic primary between House incumbents in Michigan’s 11th District. Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin are running against each other because the state's incumbents were forced to play musical chairs when Michigan lost a district following the 2020 census. The new 11th District, which leans heavily Democratic, was created by merging chunks of Oakland County with their existing districts and the Black-majority district now represented by Rep. Brenda Lawrence, also a Democrat. The real X factor, political insiders here say, is whether one of the candidates can outperform the other with nonwhite voters, many of whom were not previously represented by either candidate. Black voters could account for 20 percent or more of the electorate in the Aug. 2 primary. “There’s a lot of diversity in Oakland County,” Stevens said during a 45-minute interview at the Alley Cat Cafe in Pontiac on Monday. “That’s another piece of the pie that hasn’t been written about.” That’s because it’s an angle that has been overshadowed by a flood of money from donors determined to help determine the direction of the Democratic Party. Though the two lawmakers have had nearly identical voting records in their four years in Congress, Levin is a vocal advocate for the progressive wing of the party while Stevens is more moderate in tone and tactics. He is quick to point out where they differ ideologically: for example, he backs the Medicare for All and Green New Deal proposals that have gained little traction in Congress even with a Democratic president and Democratic majorities in both chambers. And, Levin notes, he endorsed Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign — she has endorsed him in return — while Stevens sided with Michael Bloomberg. “It’s not personal,” Levin, 61, said in a telephone interview. “I’m running on my record. That’s my record.” Stevens, 38, portrays herself as a more practical lawmaker, noting that she helped pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement — backed by some major labor organizations — while Levin voted against it. Levin, who succeeded his father, Sander Levin, in the House, has also been a consistent opponent of the annual Pentagon policy bill, which his uncle, former Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., used to write as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He says the U.S. spends too much money on the military, while Stevens has said the legislation "strengthens our national defense." Though Stevens says she believes Democrats can hold their majority in the House, she argues her experience representing a district more closely contested between the parties has prepared her to operate effectively no matter which party controls the chamber. One labor leader in the state whose union has not made an endorsement said the fight between the two Democrats is going to get nasty. Some would say it already is. And there will be a lot of money spent to keep it that way: Stevens has raised $3.6 million, and Levin $2 million. In the quarter that ended March 31, the first when it was clear they would be running against each other, Stevens pocketed $1.1 million and Levin collected a little more than $750,000. The money, much of it coming from outside the state, reflects the degree to which interest groups see a key battleground for ideological warfare. That’s been particularly true for groups primarily concerned with U.S. policy toward Israel. The hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s political action arm raised nearly $300,000 in contributions for Stevens in the first three months of the year, according to a Friday filing with the Federal Election Commission. The more progressive Jewish group J Street says it has routed nearly $200,000 to Levin. In January, one of Stevens’s top fundraisers, former AIPAC president David Victor, sent a solicitation to friends accusing Levin, who is Jewish, of being “arguably the most corrosive member of Cong . . . read the full article here.