Michigan organizers behind 'uncommitted' primary vote claim victory

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Organizers behind the Michigan campaign to vote “uncommitted” to protest against President Biden in the state’s Democratic primary claimed victory on Tuesday even as the incumbent easily won the contest.

“Our movement emerged victorious tonight and massively surpassed our expectations. Tens of thousands of Michigan Democrats, many of whom who voted for Biden in 2020, are uncommitted to his re-election due to the war in Gaza,” said Layla Elabed, campaign manager of Listen to Michigan. 

The campaign — backed by Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) — urged Michiganders to pick the “uncommitted” option on the presidential primary ballot to send Biden a message of frustration over the administration’s handling of the war in Gaza. 

Biden was quickly projected to win the Great Lakes State, but the support for the “uncommitted” effort signals potential weaknesses with progressives and Arab Americans amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

With just a quarter of votes reported in the state, “uncommitted” had earned nearly 15 percent of the vote, according to a projection from Decision Desk HQ, while Biden’s support came in at around 80 percent. 

In the last three Democratic presidential primaries in the state, Michigan’s “uncommitted” option brought in roughly 20,000 votes. This year, the option already boasts more than 30,000 votes — though turnout levels varied across the cycles. 

“We don’t want a Trump presidency, but Biden has put Netanyahu ahead of American democracy. We cannot afford to pay the bill for disregarding Palestinian lives should it come due in November,” said Elabed, a Palestinian American activist who is Tlaib’s sister.

She said she’s seen a “small shift in language” from Biden after the campaign’s pressure but that “his words are not enough.”

Updated 11:05 p.m.

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