(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin believes he can win the Jerusalem mayoral election in October even if the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) run their own candidate, he said in closed conversations in recent days.
Past Jerusalem elections have pitted a candidate who has the support of the haredim against a candidate backed by secular, traditional and religious Zionist voters. A split among either side has allowed the candidate of the other side to win.
In the conversations, Elkin cited polls indicating that the 55% to 60% of the Jewish population of the city that is not haredi would support him more than any other potential candidate. Although haredi voter turnout is significantly higher than non-haredi turnout, Elkin said he could garner enough votes to win.
A source close to Elkin said he wants the support of all sectors of the city, and he believes they could all back him, including some if not all branches among the haredim.
Elkin was definitely running, Channel 2 reported Saturday night. But following the report, Elkin said he would only run if he received the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the financial support of the Likud.
Netanyahu is under pressure from Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Shas chairman Arye Deri to support current Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion or not back any candidate.
Coalition chairman David Amsalem, a former Jerusalem city councilman, has also pondered a run for mayor. But in a briefing for Knesset reporters last week, he expressed his reservations.
“For a job like that, you need to be in it 100% with your full heart and drive, and I am still not there,” Amsalem said. “I am leaning in my heart to not run.”
Meanwhile, in the race for Tel Aviv mayor, Likud MK Oren Hazan shifted his official residence to the city so he could consider running. Likud officials from the city said they were not taking seriously a race by the controversial MK who is best known for taking a selfie with US President Donald Trump.
Unlike in Jerusalem, where incumbent Nir Barkat is not seeking reelection, in Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai is seeking another term. Science and Technology Minister Ophir Akunis is considered likely to run. Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir is also mulling joining the race.
Shaffir’s former co-leader of the 2011 socioeconomic protests in the city, Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly, said over the weekend that top activists in three different cities asked him to run for mayor, including Ramat Gan. But Shmuly said he would stay in national politics and eventually run for Labor Party leader.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi added his name to the long list of Likud politicians who see themselves running for the Likud leadership in the post-Netanyahu era.
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