• May 24, 2024

AIPAC endorses vulnerable Senate Democrats 2023

AIPAC PAC unveiled its first wave of more than 90 House and Senate endorsements for the 2024 elections yesterday, shedding light on the group’s strategy in what are likely to be some of the most closely watched races in next year’s elections, as well as how it intends to handle contentious issues pertaining to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

In addition to some of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the Senate, the list of endorsers includes a prominent Democratic opponent of Israel’s judicial reform proposals. During the 2022 election season, AIPAC backed 365 candidates, the majority of whom were incumbent lawmakers, and contributed over $17 million to its endorsees.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, spearheaded a letter backed by J Street that warned that the judicial reform plans could spark a “major conflict” in the Middle East and urged the Biden administration to “use all diplomatic tools at its disposal” to prevent such a conflict. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) was the sole AIPAC supporter to sign DeLauro’s letter.

The pro-Israel PAC also supported Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who signed onto a separate letter from Jewish Democrats urging a halt to the judicial reform efforts, as well as Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), who have made separate statements regarding the efforts.

AIPAC spokeswoman Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider, “We based these endorsements on the candidates’ track records on matters pertaining to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who issued a statement advising lawmakers not to comment publicly on Israel’s proposed judicial changes, was also approved by AIPAC. It has not yet endorsed Gottheimer’s co-author of the declaration, Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz, who was backed by AIPAC in 2022.

The current round of endorsements, according to Wittmann, “focuses on important leaders in this Congress, including members of the congressional leadership, chairs and ranking members of key committees, and other legislators from both parties who play crucial roles in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

The pro-Israel PAC also stepped in on several expectedly contentious Senate contests, backing incumbents Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who are all anticipated to face difficult reelection campaigns. In addition, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who was also backed by AIPAC in 2022, is running for the Arizona Senate nomination.

On the House side, the vast majority of AIPAC’s current endorsees hold seats that the Cook Political Report presently rates as safe. One, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), is ranked as a toss-up; redistricting might jeopardize her seat. Representatives Jared Golden (D-Maine), Ken Calvert (R-California), and Don Bacon (R-Nebraska) represent contested districts.

Representatives Darren Soto (D-Florida), Chris Pappas (D-New Hampshire), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Virginia), Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), Young Kim (R-California), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) represent safer districts.

Although AIPAC backed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in 2022, the organization has yet to weigh in on the highly anticipated Senate race in California, in which Schiff goes off against progressive Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). AIPAC backed Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) for her 2022 House run. It has not yet endorsed in the Michigan Senate contest.

Wittmann stated that the organization has not yet made a decision about any Senate campaign.

AIPAC’s list of endorsed candidates also includes a number of influential House and Senate committee chairs and ranking members, as well as the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House.

Despite criticism in the 2022 election cycle, AIPAC supported more than 20 Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election in 2021.

The United Democracy Project, a super PAC linked with AIPAC that spent millions on extremely competitive Democratic primaries in 2022, did not reply to a request for comment regarding its intentions for 2024.

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