Few will be shocked to find out that some of the same radical Squad members (and their allies) who have alleged, without evidence, some of the vilest and incendiary things about Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians are now running to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), begging him to call off powerful critics ahead of the Democratic primaries.
Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), for instance, are facing formidable primary challengers who have in part been motivated by their stance on the Israel-Hamas war. As a result, the Progressive Caucus PAC led by anti-Israel Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has been aggressively pushing Jeffries to protect them from criticism and primary challengers, warning that whatever money they burn through in the primaries will be money they don’t have in the general election:
In a closed-door meeting at party headquarters last Thursday, the three lawmakers who lead the Progressive Caucus’ PAC met with Jeffries and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm. They told the Democratic leader he needed to keep the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee out of Democratic primaries.
“If we have to spend a lot of money to keep our incumbents in office, then that’s less money that gets spent on frontline districts and districts we can pick up, so it is a real problem,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-chair of the PAC. “And that’s why it’s really important to be clear to AIPAC that they need to stand down and that we are going to vigorously defend our members.”
Despite the open war of words going on in the Democratic Party now regarding who stands where in the battle between Hamas terrorists and Israel – which manifested itself in the pro-Hamas rioters’ attack on the DNC HQ, Jeffries has maintained that he will back up members as he tries to get Democrats back in the majority in 2024.
But shushing pro-Israel advocacy groups like AIPAC is going to be a tall, near-impossible order considering what’s at stake:
The United Democracy Project, a super PAC run by AIPAC, and DMFI PAC, which is run by Democratic Majority for Israel, are already ramping up for the 2024 cycle. UDP is running a negative ad against [Summer] Lee in her [Pa.] district as well as an ad hitting Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). Lee faces a credible primary challenge from Bhavini Patel, and Westchester County Executive George Latimer has been floated as a challenger to Bowman.
DMFI is also running an ad against Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, that highlights her criticisms of the Israeli government.
The disgust amongst these PACs and some well-connected political activists with the Hamas Caucus has gotten so intense that some are reportedly aggressively pursuing people to challenge Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), neither of whom have a declared primary challenger at this point.
Not surprisingly, the race card is being thrown in advance against these groups by AOC because, of course, it is:
It was a call echoed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who said in a brief interview that with “the highly racialized targeting of many of these members, we absolutely need leadership that would defend our members from that.”
The big problem with AOC’s “racialized” argument is that the high-profile challengers who have declared against Bush, Lee, and Omar so far are all persons of color who undoubtedly have the support of some of these groups that she’s not so subtly accusing of racism. So that’s a bird that’s not going to fly successfully, at least not in the short term.
It’s going to be interesting, popcorn-worthy even, to watch how Jeffries and other Democrat “leaders” try to walk the tightrope in defending anti-Israel incumbents while sending along assurances to Jewish voters and pro-Israel groups that he and the party stand with them shoulder to shoulder in the fight against Hamas.
Primarying the likes of Omar and Tlaib has been tried before, and failed. But even as influential Democrats signal they have learned no lessons in all this by way of confirming they will stand with these embattled members, as noted above the stakes this time around are higher than they’ve ever been for the Jewish community here in the U.S., which could translate into a few primary night upsets in the months ahead.
As always, stay tuned.
Related: AOC Leaves Something Important Out of Announcement on ‘Expanded Coalition’ of Dem Ceasefire Proponents