Michigan Democrats who defied Biden in primary claim VICTORY: Progressives, Arab


Activists who organized tens of thousands of voters to back ‘uncommitted’ instead of President Biden proclaimed victory Tuesday night and vowed to take their anti-war push to the Chicago Democratic Convention.

‘We have a huge victory tonight,’ said former Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, speaking to ‘uncommitted’ supporters at a Dearborn watch party that featured cheers, spontaneous dancing to Palestinian music, and pledges to expand the movement that organizers cobbled together in a matter of weeks.

‘It is my hope that after tonight’s results – and we’re going to Chicago, by the way – 174 days from now we’re going to be at the Democratic National Convention, pushing and growing this antiwar movement,’ said Michigan state Rep. Abraham Aiyash, the majority leader of the state House.

He and other backers of the effort spoke as the tally for ‘uncommitted’ climbed to 30,000 by the end of their event to 50,000 by midnight.

‘So if they didn’t listen … after 30,000 and they didn’t listen after the hospitals being bombed, maybe they will listen to Michigan,’ he said at a watch party for the ‘uncommitted’ effort, in a reference to an estimated Gaza death toll.

Attendees dance the Dabke during an uncommitted vote election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan primary presidential election, in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. February 27, 2024.

Attendees dance the Dabke during an uncommitted vote election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan primary presidential election, in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. February 27, 2024. 

‘And we have an opportunity in Chicago to take that message to the convention floor and push this party platform to finally change course on things like the unconditional aid to Israel, we start to have the conversation on what we do with settlements,’ Aiyash told DailyMail.com. He said the group would ‘leverage’ its new power to ensure that the Democratic Party is ‘anti-war’ and ‘anti-genocide.’

Under the party’s 15 per cent rule, candidates must get 15 per cent statewide or within individual congressional districts to be able to send delegates to the convention.

‘We’re going to win enough votes to send delegates to the convention I think,’ said Levin.

There were solemn moments as well, as organizers held a moment of silence for active-duty airman Aaron Bushnell, who died after setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

The thousands of votes for ‘uncommitted’ were a warning sign for the president over the war in Gaza.

In a show of restraint, Biden’s statement on the results thanked ‘every Michigander who made their voice heard today. Exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy is what makes America great.’

Activist Abbas Alawieh leads the dance Dabke during an uncommitted vote election night gathering. Supporters took the tally as a victory, even as President Biden won the state's primary

Activist Abbas Alawieh leads the dance Dabke during an uncommitted vote election night gathering. Supporters took the tally as a victory, even as President Biden won the state’s primary

There were also solemn gestures, on a night when speakers acknowledged Palestinians killed in Gaza and active-duty airman Aaron Bushnell, who died after setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

There were also solemn gestures, on a night when speakers acknowledged Palestinians killed in Gaza and active-duty airman Aaron Bushnell, who died after setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

Layla Elabed, Abbas Alawich, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Lexis Zeidan spoke to supporters in Dearborn as 'uncommitted' gathered thousands of votes in Michigan

Layla Elabed, Abbas Alawich, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Lexis Zeidan spoke to supporters in Dearborn as ‘uncommitted’ gathered thousands of votes in Michigan

‘Four years ago, it was Michigan’s diverse coalition that came together to reject Donald Trump’s MAGA extremism and sent me and Kamala to the White House,’ Biden said.

Biden was leading with nearly 80 per cent of the vote in early returns Tuesday evening. But ‘uncommitted’ was at 15 per cent, with more than 25,000 votes and counting. That was already more than a bar that activists had set for themselves. That came with about 16 per cent of the vote in.

But that percentage dropped over time, as more votes came in in what proved to be a high turnout primary. By after midnight, ‘uncommitted’ was running at about 13 per cent of the vote. That was the last time an incumbent Democrat faced reelection, and it was a lower turnout event.

By comparison, ‘uncommitted’ got 11 per cent in 2012 during President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. 

The Associated Press called the race for Biden immediately after the last polls closed at 9pm Tuesday. 

Biden faced token opposition on the ballot from Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, but his real battle has been against ‘uncommitted’ and against himself. Biden faced scrutiny in the state for his handling of Israel‘s war against Hamas in Gaza, and many Arab American voters in Dearborn and other parts of Detroit have been registering their anger about the war. 

Squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) who is Palestinian-American has been hammering Biden and pushing the ‘uncommitted’ effort.

A group of activists who organized a push for ‘uncommitted’ treated the results as cause for a victory rally Tuesday night, packing the Adonis restaurant next to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn that featured food, music, and proclamations of victory – along with statements about the growing toll of the war in Gaza.

‘Here in southeastern Michigan, people in our Arab American community have an expertise of horrifying expertise. So many of us have survived U.S.-funded bombs,’ said ‘Listen to Michigan’ co-organizer Abbass Alawieh at a post-election rally that ‘uncommitted’ backers treated as a victory rally.

‘That’s all we’re asking for. Just stop killing our families. It’s actually not all that complicated. Just stop killing our families, President Biden. You can do it,’ he said.

Layla Elabed, another organizer, said volunteers made 1 million voter calls as part of the effort.

Elabed, the sister of Rashida Tlaib, called on Biden to ‘bring a permanent ceasefire and end the unchecked unconditional military aid that is funding a genocide in 2024,’ she told ‘uncommitted’ supporters as the votes came in.

Tuesday's event took on the feel of a victory paty as the votes came in

Tuesday’s event took on the feel of a victory paty as the votes came in

There was little doubt President Biden would win the Demoratic primary in Michigan. Activists have been pushing a vote for 'uncommitted' over Israel's war in Gaza

There was little doubt President Biden would win the Demoratic primary in Michigan. Activists have been pushing a vote for ‘uncommitted’ over Israel’s war in Gaza

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) cast her vote for 'uncommitted' rather than for President Joe Biden as she accused the U.S. of aiding 'genocide' against the Palestinians. She posted a video after voting

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) cast her vote for ‘uncommitted’ rather than for President Joe Biden as she accused the U.S. of aiding ‘genocide’ against the Palestinians. She posted a video after voting

She said activists were telling the U.S. government ‘that funding endless wars is not the path, but there is a better path that saves the children who are being killed … That returns the hostages and prisoners. There is a better path of diplomacy and peace and not a genocide.’ 

‘This is not a messaging problem. This has become a bombs problem,’ said ‘Listen to Michigan organizer Lexis Zeidan.

‘We have a huge victory tonight,’ said former Rep. Andy Levin told the crowd. ‘This is a victory of American democracy tonight,’ he added.

‘Our message to the president is clear. There is no time to waste. We need a permanent cease fire right now,’ he said.

‘It is not lost on me that this president has softened his language and begun to recognize Palestinian suffering,’ said Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud. ‘But what is not enough is lip service. What we need is a complete withdrawal of support for the most radical and tyrannical government in Israel’s history.’

‘I was proud today to walk in and pull a Democratic ballot and vote uncommitted,’ Tlaib said in a video she posted Tuesday afternoon.

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud blasted Biden for commenting Monday on the latest talks for a cease fire while the president was eating an ice cream cone. 

‘I don’t look to lip service or words. I’m looking for action,’ he told DailyMail.com outside a polling place. 

Khalid Turaani, a co-founder of the ‘Abandon Biden’ movement, predicted thousands would vote for ‘uncommitted.’

'I think I find it strange that you're eating ice cream at a parlor - that is the moment that you talk about a cease fire coming forward,' said Dearborn, Michigan Mayor Abdullah Hammoud

‘I think I find it strange that you’re eating ice cream at a parlor – that is the moment that you talk about a cease fire coming forward,’ said Dearborn, Michigan Mayor Abdullah Hammoud

President Joe Biden spoke about talks for a temporary cease fire while having ice cream with 'Late Night' host Seth Meyers in New York Monday

President Joe Biden spoke about talks for a temporary cease fire while having ice cream with ‘Late Night’ host Seth Meyers in New York Monday

Biden faced demands for a permanent ceasefire and a push for voting for 'uncommitted'

Biden faced demands for a permanent ceasefire and a push for voting for ‘uncommitted’

Dearborn has a high percentage of Arab American and Muslim voters

Dearborn has a high percentage of Arab American and Muslim voters

‘I think 10,000 is reasonable and I think we will achieve that,’ he told DailyMail.com as he passed out sample ballots featuring ‘uncommitted.’ 

Out of the first six people he spoke to, in English and Arabic outside a polling place, ‘only one person didn’t say that he wasn’t going to vote uncommitted. He wasn’t talkative.’ 

Ten thousand is roughly the number Biden defeated Donald Trump by in 2020, in a demonstration of the influence Arab American voters could have on the November election. 

It’s the number activist group ‘Listen to Michigan’ has identified as a goal.

But ‘uncommitted’ has racked up larger tallies in recent Democratic presidential primaries.

Uncommitted got about 20,000 against President Barack Obama in 2012, and a similar amount when Hillary Clinton was battling Bernie Sanders in 2016 and four years later when Sanders was challenging Biden. 

State party leaders aren’t publicly panicking. The Biden campaign organized a press call just as most of the state’s polls closed to reassure the media.

Members of the Michigan state Democratic party ‘know how to beat Donald Trump. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again,’ state chair Chair Lavora Barnes told reporters.

Former Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, a leader in the push for ‘uncommitted,’ said he doesn’t want Donald  ‘to ever get anywhere near the White House ever again.’

But he told DailyMail.com at an ‘uncommitted’ watch party that Biden’s problems are much more than tactical, after the president was criticized for failing to meet with Arab American leaders on his visit here as resentment grew.

‘It’s not because they didn’t come early enough or they didn’t do enough … This is not a political problem. He can’t solve it with like, really good surrogates.’ 

He said Biden or any other Democrat ‘isn’t going to win without Michigan,’ and that ‘Joe Biden can’t win Michigan without changing course.’





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