Democratic Majority for Israel will announce on Monday that its political action committee is endorsing a dozen new House and Senate primary candidates as the midterm elections come into sharper focus.
The pro-Israel advocacy group is throwing its support behind nine Democratic incumbents who are up for reelection this cycle — including five senators and four House members — as well as three candidates vying for open seats in California, Maryland and Ohio, according to Mark Mellman, DMFI PAC’s president and a veteran Democratic pollster.
“As Democrats across the country prepare to go to the polls to decide their nominees for Congress,” Mellman said in a statement to Jewish Insider on Sunday, “DMFI PAC is thrilled to announce our third slate of primary endorsees, each of whom believes in — and has demonstrated the willingness to fight for — a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Three candidates, including Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), are viewed as uniquely vulnerable in general-election matchups this November as they prepare to defend their seats — and a tenuous Democratic majority in the upper chamber — amid favorable GOP headwinds. The other Senate incumbents are Patty Murray (D-WA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).
Among the House members DMFI is endorsing are Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Adam Smith (D-WA) and Elaine Luria (D-VA), a pro-Israel stalwart whose race has been ranked a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Krishnamoorthi, Kilmer and Smith are facing Democratic primary challengers who, in social media comments, have expressed criticism of the Israeli government as well as U.S. funding for the Jewish state.
DMFI is also backing Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is among several candidates in the Democratic primary for California’s 42nd Congressional District; state Rep. Emilia Sykes, who is seeking election in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District; and Glenn Ivey, a former state’s attorney who is running in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District.
The Maryland race is expected to be particularly competitive as Ivey goes up against former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who was endorsed by the liberal advocacy group J Street earlier this month. Jazz Lewis, a former longtime staffer for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) who had cast himself as a pro-Israel progressive, dropped out of the race in mid-April.
Several of the candidates listed in DMFI’s new slate of endorsements have gained backing from other pro-Israel groups, including the Jewish Democratic Council of America, the bipartisan advocacy group Pro-Israel America and AIPAC’s new political action committee, which has thrown its support behind hundreds of congressional candidates and incumbents in recent weeks.
DMFI’s political arm released its first slate of 15 House endorsements in late January and announced its support for 20 additional candidates last month.
“With this latest round of endorsements,” Mellman told JI, “DMFI PAC will have endorsed nearly 50 well-qualified, diverse, pro-Israel Democratic candidates for House and Senate — candidates who know well that being pro-Israel is both good policy and good politics.”
Rachel Rosen, a spokesperson for DMFI PAC, said the group will be “running ads to support some” candidates but declined to elaborate further.
Last week, DMFI released its first TV ad of the cycle in support of freshman Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH). The group spent more than $2 million on Brown’s behalf last summer in her upset victory over progressive stalwart Nina Turner, who is now seeking a rematch in the May primary.
“As races develop,” Rosen told JI, “DMFI PAC will announce additional endorsements for both primary and general elections.”