'Just running is a victory,' claim Feiglin staffers
If support for Feiglin rises to around 30 percent of the vote, up from 23 percent in the last primary, the internal election will be considered a failure for the Netanyahu camp, sources say.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign staff is hoping he will win at least 80 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Likud primary, sources said.
The election is widely expected to give Netanyahu a mandate to continue leading the party. The only question in the minds of many observers is how large his margin of victory is going to be and how many people will vote for Moshe Feiglin, Netanyahu's perennial rival and the head of the party's far-right Manhigut Yehudit faction.
If support for Feiglin rises to around 30 percent of the vote, up from 23 percent in the last primary, the internal election will be considered a failure for the Netanyahu camp, sources said.
"At Bibi's headquarters they're definitely concerned that Feiglin will get a significant amount," said a Likud Central Committee member involved in the primary campaign.
Netanyahu's last-minute campaign messages urged party members to vote despite the prevailing assumption that he will remain party chairman.
"The Likud primaries will take place tomorrow, and I ask that you come vote for me," Netanyahu said in one of several recorded phone messages sent to the party's 125,000 registered voters. He urged voters not to "stay home because you assume that I'll win in any case."
Feiglin has hundreds of volunteers working on his campaign, and his supporters are considered dedicated voters who will show up in any weather, even in the rain forecast for Tuesday.
Feiglin campaign workers would not say what they consider a success, noting only that "just running is a victory."
Though the voting has yet to begin, there are already charges of fraud, in connection with the party decision to refund the application fee for certain local candidates if enough voters from their Likud branch show up at the polls.
"It's clear election fraud," said one Likud activist.
In several polling stations, voters will be choosing not just the party chairman, but also the council members at their Likud branch and other party officials. But in some of those branches, there is no real race, thereby reducing voters' motivation to go to the polls.
Both Netanyahu and Feiglin have conducted respectful campaigns that stayed away from mudslinging.
The two candidates are expected to start their day with an early-morning vote near their homes. Netanyahu will be voting at Jerusalem's International Convention Center and Feiglin will go to the polls in Ma'aleh Shomron.
Feiglin is scheduled to visit some of the approximately 150 polling stations that will be open on Tuesday.
Netanyahu plans to go to his office in the morning and spend the afternoon visiting local party headquarters across the country. In the evening he will head over to the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv, where the winner will be announced on Tuesday night.
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