The Southfield resident, IDF veteran and former car salesman is running in the Republican primary to face off against Andy Levin in Michigan’s 9th district.
Gabi Grossbard, a former car salesman and Orthodox Jew, is running for Congress in the 9th District in the Aug. 4 Republican primary for the chance to face Rep. Andy Levin this fall. The 9th District includes Huntington Woods, Bloomfield Township and Franklin, along with 19 other cities in Oakland and Macomb counties.
Grossbard was born in Israel and moved to Michigan in 1998. He and his wife live just outside the 9th District in Southfield and have six children. His Republican opponent, Charles Langworthy, is a U.S. Navy veteran and fervent backer of President Trump.
If he wins, Grossbard would face off against another Jew this fall, Democratic incumbent Andy Levin.
Read about why Grossbard has entered the race and what he hopes to accomplish if elected.
JN: Why are you running for Congress?
Grossbard: We’re at a point right now where we have two political parties that are odds with each other. They both seem to be running in separate directions. And the average voter is stranded in the middle without representation … So, though it goes against my nature and against my personality to jump into public life, I think it’s important to do.
In November, you started running in the 14th District and then you withdrew from that race. Now you’re running in the 9th. What happened there?
I was running in the 14th because I do live in the 14th. I live right outside the 9th. The way the district runs, I’m less than a mile outside the district border. I decided to switch because I saw that Andy Levin was running unopposed at the time and I just couldn’t let that happen. He never represented us well.
You were born in Israel, and you served in the IDF. Why is it important to you to be that advocate for Israel in the federal government?
Israel, being the only democracy in the Middle East, from a purely American point, is important to uphold and strengthen. Israel’s existence directly and indirectly brings a lot of safety and security here to the United States.
You also don’t want to be seen as the one-issue, pro-Israel candidate, and representing working class people is something that you’re also really passionate about. Why is that?
Another reason I switched from the 14th to the 9th is I resonate much better with the 9th District people. There’s a big chunk of this district that’s in Macomb County — these are blue-collar, hardworking people. And that’s me. I identify with that.
If elected, you’d be one of the first Orthodox Jewish congressmembers in the House of Representatives. What does that distinction mean to you?
Having a Jewish person who wears a kippah on the Congress floor, along with specifically my background, born and raised in Israel and serving in the IDF, I think could be a big plus.
You consider yourself a “moderate conservative.” What does that mean to you?
I’m not a radical right-wing lunatic nut who served in the Israeli army and is looking for that type of trouble. I really think that I’m in the middle.
Does that mean you’d vote against the rest of the Republican party in Congress if you think their idea went against the interests of the people in your district?
It depends on the issue, but that is not something I would say no to right now … But that’s as far as the votes. I will never vocally criticize the leader of my party or any of the other members, just like I wouldn’t anyone on the other side. I’m a policy guy.
This summer, there’ve been protests calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. How are you responding to these protests, and how would you advocate for people of color, especially Black people, in Congress?
I definitely agree with the statement that Black lives matter. I don’t subscribe to the movement, the BLM movement.
Within the 9th District, from what I’ve seen, this is not an issue. I see a lot of people getting along and I see this in general America … I don’t think to the average American, in my district, at least, this is a big issue, reason to protest.
This area has been represented by a Democrat for decades now. What makes you think that a moderate conservative Republican candidate can win this time?
I really hope that the independents and the moderates, along with the many Republicans in this district, can evaluate me based on the candidate that I am, and not just based on the fact I’m running on the Republican side of the ticket. And I do think that there is an opportunity here.
Correction: The headline and article originally stated that if elected, Grossbard would be the first Orthodox Jew in Congress. In fact, former Senator Joseph Lieberman identifies as Orthodox. The article has been updated to reflect this.