Politics

Pro-Israel group boosts Democrats in battleground races

A prominent pro-Israel super PAC is throwing its backing behind Democrats running in a handful of competitive races, as the party grapples with how the Israel-Hamas war will impact races up and down the ballot in the fall.

The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC is issuing its first general election endorsements, shared first with POLITICO. The group is supporting three senators running in battleground states — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — along with three Democrats looking to flip House seats currently held by Republicans: Joe Kerr, a retired fire captain challenging Rep. Young Kim in California’s 40th District; former state Assemblymember Rudy Salas, who’s running in a rematch against Rep. David Valadao in California’s 22nd District; and former news anchor Janelle Stelson, who’s running against Rep. Scott Perry in Pennsylvania’s 10th District.

The group said it will roll out additional endorsements ahead of November. DMFI PAC does not announce its future spending plans, but has a record of notable investments in support of its endorsees. In 2022, the group spent more than $7 million on independent expenditures, primarily in House races. This cycle, it has so far spent more than $500,000 in a half-dozen House contests, along with the California Senate primary in support of Rep. Adam Schiff and for President Joe Biden.

DMFI PAC is just one prominent pro-Israel group that has emerged as a major player in recent cycles — and could prove to be even more influential as the ongoing war roils national politics. But in the months since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the current war, public opinion among Democratic voters has shifted in support of Palestinians, complicating support for Israel’s sustained military campaign. The vulnerable senators endorsed by DMFI have already seen pushback from those advocating for Palestinians — voters who could make a difference come the fall in the competitive races.

Beyond DMFI, American Israel Public Affairs Committee has vowed to spend $100 million to oust candidates it deems as anti-Israel, and has already spent millions of dollars this cycle in primaries. AIPAC has drawn the ire of progressives on the other side of its spending, with those candidates taking issue with the group’s donations from Republicans and its support of GOP candidates. DMFI only endorses Democrats running for office.

With this new round of endorsements, DMFI and AIPAC are on the same page in some races, including both groups’ support of Casey, Rosen and Tester. But in the House races, AIPAC is backing Kim, Valadao and Perry.

As part of its general election endorsement slate, DMFI is also playing in races where Democrats are the heavy favorites. In California, that includes state Assemblymember Laura Friedman in California’s 30th District to succeed Schiff and former Rep. Gil Cisneros’ bid to replace retiring Rep. Grace Napolitano in the 31st District. In Maryland, the group is backing Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski in the 2nd District to replace Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger; state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the 3rd District to replace Rep. John Sarbanes; and former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney in Maryland’s 6th District to replace Rep. David Trone. Texas state Rep. Julie Johnson also got an endorsement in the 32nd District to replace Rep. Colin Allred, as did Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) reelection campaign.

DMFI has waded into a couple of primaries this cycle in an attempt to shape the Democratic caucus. That includes the competitive primary taking place this week between Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner to take on GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the 5th District. The group is supporting Bynum over McLeod-Skinner, a progressive who unseated incumbent Kurt Schrader in the 2022 primary and ended up losing in the general election. It’s also backing former Virginia state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn in the crowded primary to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th District.

More notably, DMFI is looking to oust incumbent Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) and Cori Bush (Mo.) — progressive members who are being targeted this cycle, in part, for their support for Palestinians amid the war. The group is supporting their challengers, George Latimer and Wesley Bell, respectively, as is AIPAC.

“As Israel faces powerful enemies committed to its destruction and amidst an alarming rise in virulent and vicious anti-Zionist antisemitism at home, we’re heartened by the moral clarity of this group of Democratic leaders who are committed to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship,” DMFI PAC chair Mark Mellman said in a statement.

A version of this story first appeared in POLITICO Pro’s Morning Score newsletter. Sign up for POLITICO Pro.

A prominent pro-Israel super PAC is throwing its backing behind Democrats running in a handful of competitive races, as the party grapples with how the Israel-Hamas war will impact races up and down the ballot in the fall.
The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC is issuing its first general election endorsements, shared first with POLITICO. The group is supporting three senators running in battleground states — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — along with three Democrats looking to flip House seats currently held by Republicans: Joe Kerr, a retired fire captain challenging Rep. Young Kim in California’s 40th District; former state Assemblymember Rudy Salas, who’s running in a rematch against Rep. David Valadao in California’s 22nd District; and former news anchor Janelle Stelson, who’s running against Rep. Scott Perry in Pennsylvania’s 10th District.
The group said it will roll out additional endorsements ahead of November. DMFI PAC does not announce its future spending plans, but has a record of notable investments in support of its endorsees. In 2022, the group spent more than $7 million on independent expenditures, primarily in House races. This cycle, it has so far spent more than $500,000 in a half-dozen House contests, along with the California Senate primary in support of Rep. Adam Schiff and for President Joe Biden.
DMFI PAC is just one prominent pro-Israel group that has emerged as a major player in recent cycles — and could prove to be even more influential as the ongoing war roils national politics. But in the months since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the current war, public opinion among Democratic voters has shifted in support of Palestinians, complicating support for Israel’s sustained military campaign. The vulnerable senators endorsed by DMFI have already seen pushback from those advocating for Palestinians — voters who could make a difference come the fall in the competitive races.
Beyond DMFI, American Israel Public Affairs Committee has vowed to spend $100 million to oust candidates it deems as anti-Israel, and has already spent millions of dollars this cycle in primaries. AIPAC has drawn the ire of progressives on the other side of its spending, with those candidates taking issue with the group’s donations from Republicans and its support of GOP candidates. DMFI only endorses Democrats running for office.
With this new round of endorsements, DMFI and AIPAC are on the same page in some races, including both groups’ support of Casey, Rosen and Tester. But in the House races, AIPAC is backing Kim, Valadao and Perry.
As part of its general election endorsement slate, DMFI is also playing in races where Democrats are the heavy favorites. In California, that includes state Assemblymember Laura Friedman in California’s 30th District to succeed Schiff and former Rep. Gil Cisneros’ bid to replace retiring Rep. Grace Napolitano in the 31st District. In Maryland, the group is backing Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski in the 2nd District to replace Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger; state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the 3rd District to replace Rep. John Sarbanes; and former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney in Maryland’s 6th District to replace Rep. David Trone. Texas state Rep. Julie Johnson also got an endorsement in the 32nd District to replace Rep. Colin Allred, as did Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) reelection campaign.
DMFI has waded into a couple of primaries this cycle in an attempt to shape the Democratic caucus. That includes the competitive primary taking place this week between Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner to take on GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the 5th District. The group is supporting Bynum over McLeod-Skinner, a progressive who unseated incumbent Kurt Schrader in the 2022 primary and ended up losing in the general election. It’s also backing former Virginia state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn in the crowded primary to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th District.
More notably, DMFI is looking to oust incumbent Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) and Cori Bush (Mo.) — progressive members who are being targeted this cycle, in part, for their support for Palestinians amid the war. The group is supporting their challengers, George Latimer and Wesley Bell, respectively, as is AIPAC.
“As Israel faces powerful enemies committed to its destruction and amidst an alarming rise in virulent and vicious anti-Zionist antisemitism at home, we’re heartened by the moral clarity of this group of Democratic leaders who are committed to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship,” DMFI PAC chair Mark Mellman said in a statement.
A version of this story first appeared in POLITICO Pro’s Morning Score newsletter. Sign up for POLITICO Pro.  

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