On Eve of Kadima Primary, Main Contenders Warn Voters of Danger if the Other Guy Wins

The Kadima party will elect its new leader today, and both the front-runners were busy yesterday honing their get-out-the-vote operations and trying to sway any remaining undecided voters.

Associates of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that should Kadima members elect Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz as their chair, Kadima would cease to be a centrist party and become a Likud clone. That, they predicted, would spell the party's demise in the next Knesset elections.

Mofaz's courtship of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party and rabbinic leaders, his rightist stances and his threats to attack Iran, "will frighten away the Labor and Shinui voters who joined Kadima upon its establishment, while rightist voters will prefer the original - [Benjamin] Netanyahu," said one.

Livni's associates also said she would have to consider whether to remain in the party if Mofaz won. "Livni isn't looking for a job," said one. "She isn't interested in being Mofaz's number two if the party she established turns into something else."

In contrast, Mofaz's associates said that he would not quit the party if Livni won; instead, he would rally behind her.

Mofaz's associates predicted that voter turnout would be around 50 percent and the race would be neck-and-neck. However, said one, "he's never lost a battle in his life," and he does not intend this to be the first.

If elected, his associates continued, Mofaz would try to form a new government that included all the current coalition members, but also some additional rightist parties, such as MK Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu.

"Why shouldn't we offer Lieberman the Finance Ministry?" demanded one. "He wouldn't refuse, and he'd be a much better finance minister than Roni Bar-On," the current minister, who supports Livni in the primary. "Bar-On has no electoral value. We could get rid of him without blinking an eye in order to expand the coalition."

The polls open at 10 A.M., and will close at 10 P.M. Voting will take place in 93 locations throughout the country. To win in the first round, one of the four candidates must garner at least 40 percent of the vote.