Ron Dermer joins Jerusalem investment firm + Assessing Janice Winfrey’s chances vs. Rashida Tlaib

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey speaks to the press at the TCF Center on November 3, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan.

Armed with a strong initial fundraising total, longtime Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is coming out swinging in her challenge to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jewish Insider‘s Marc Rod reports. Winfrey told JI in a recent interview that she felt the district “is not being represented,” describing Tlaib’s vote last year against the bipartisan infrastructure package as “the last straw.” Winfrey entered the race in February and has since raised $200,000, she told JI.

Quotable: “It appears to me that my opponent is more interested in political gain than she is in serving our constituents,” Winfrey said. “For me, that just makes my teeth itch… For you to run as a Democrat in that district and then don’t support our Democratic president, and don’t support some of the benefits that would directly benefit our community, I feel like you have another agenda. When you don’t support the one ally that we have in the Middle East, then I feel you have another agenda, and that agenda is not conducive to the citizens of the 12th Congressional District.”

Fighting Chance: “If she’s actually raised $200,000 already, then she’s had a good first six weeks of her campaign. That’s a respectable total. She needs to raise a hell of a lot more, but if she’s actually got 200 in the bank, color me impressed and a little surprised,” Adrian Hemond, a local political consultant, told JI. Hemond led then-Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) campaign in 2016, when Winfrey challenged him. “That doesn’t mean she’s going to win, but that’s at least a viability signal, and a pretty strong one, that Congresswoman Tlaib could have a race on her hands.”

Contrast: The congressional hopeful emphasizing her support for the US-Israel relationship and military aid to Israel as well as her opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. “I don’t care what your dislike is with the Jewish people, you don’t just wipe out a whole country, a whole group of people — that’s never the answer,” Winfrey said. “However fancy you want to make those words so it doesn’t sound like that — but that’s what it is and that’s what you want to do… And I’ll do whatever I need to do to eliminate the likes of those who want to work and dislike the Jewish people just because of who they are.”

Standing back: Winfrey was only broadly familiar with the two-state solution, saying she was “not proficient” in Israel policy but that a two-state solution “might be the best outcome.” She elaborated on her stance in a position paper provided to JI. “We must have confidence in Israel’s ability to determine what is best for her own security and well-being,” she said. “While I support the US’s Middle East peace talks, the United States should not infringe upon Israel’s sovereign right to pursue peace accord best aligned with her national interests. The United States has a role to facilitate in peace talks, but not dictate them.”

Making friends: Winfrey’s baseline support for Israel has earned her friends among pro-Israel advocates in the Detroit area. Joshua Tobias — a director of the Ira Kaufman Chapel, the largest Jewish funeral home in the area, and a longtime friend of Winfrey and her husband — told JI he connected Winfrey with local AIPAC who organized a recent fundraiser. “From what I can tell, as soon as she met the folks at AIPAC they fell in love with her too and are really trying to help in any way they can,” he said. “She understands the importance of America’s alliance with Israel, and it’s become a very important subject for her as well.”

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