Religion Magazine

Will One Candidate Become Two Or Three?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Municipal elections are about 6 months away, and the situation in Bet Shemesh is already heating up.
For a city with 1 mayoral candidate, the incumbent, what could possibly get heated up?
The various news media have, nearly daily, articles about potential opponents to Mayor Moshe Abutbol. The main, and really the only, point of debate right now is whether Degel Hatorah will field a candidate against Shas's Abutbol. There is also some debate as to who that candidate might be, but for now the main issue is whether they will decide to support Abutbol or field their own candidate.
Degel leaders recently went to the rabbonim to discuss the issue but have so far been holding things close to their chest. Whatever it is they are waiting for, they have not announced any decision as of yet. It could be that no decision has yet been arrived at, it could be they are trying to improve their negotiating power trading support in bet Shemesh for more jobs and power or support elsewhere in the country.
Interestingly, this morning I heard an interview on the radio with MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes (UTJ) about the situation in Bet Shemesh, and more specifically about a letter of support the Hamodia newspaper printed today for Moshe Abutbol. Mozes thinks, like Hamodia and Aguda, that Abutbol should be supported and he hopes Degel decides to not field its own candidate but to also support Abutbol.
What Mozes  said was interesting though. Mozes is concerned that if Degel will field its own candidate, the city could fall into undesirable hands. He never said a name or even implied who or what type of person that might be, but I found the concern interesting considering the fact that Abutbol is the only candidate, and if Degel fields a candidate that means there will be two candidates, both Haredi. So who could he possibly be concerned about? Does he consider the possible Degel candidates (likely Shmuel Greenberg, maybe Moshe Montag, possibly an external candidate) to be undesirable and dangerous for Haredi interests?
If Mozes is worried that others might see a Haredi split and field a third, non-Haredi, candidate and might win due to a Haredi split, it would be easy enough to revisit the issue in such a scenario and agree to re-unite behind one candidate so as not to split the Haredi vote. He also did not say that if Degel fields a candidate another, non-Haredi, party might as well, so perhaps he considers anyone other than Abutbol (with whom Mozes is very close) to be undesirable and dangerous, even other Haredi candidates...
Regardless, the coming days will be interesting as decisions are made. Also regardless, who ever thought that an election campaign with just one candidate could be so interesting and filled with so much intrigue?
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