AIPAC has been one of the most venal forces in the 2022 election cycle this year, working with a handful of other shady players to launder Republican money into Democratic primaries on the side of conservatives. AIPAC's SuperPAC, United Democracy Project (UDP), and an associated SuperPAC it coordinates with, Mark Mellman's Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) have spent millions of dollars against Nina Turner (OH), Jessica Cisneros (TX), Erica Smith (NC), Cristina Garcia (CA), Summer Lee (PA), Nida Allam (NC), Daniel Lee (CA) and half a dozen other progressives.
Lately the coalition of corrupt conservative organizations, loosely directed by would-be-next-speaker and Wall Street whore Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), has begun attacking progressive incumbents Andy Levin, Rashida Tlaib and Marie Newman. And then this morning, Meagan Flynn reported in the Washington Post that AIPAC has begun "spending money to attack former Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards as she asks voters to send her back to Congress in Maryland’s 4th District. Edwards pushed back forcefully Friday-- including with a virtual appearance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi-- against a $600,000 ad buy from the United Democracy Project. The super PAC has been inserting itself into races across the country, spending millions against candidates opposed by AIPAC, long one of the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying arms in Washington. The group’s attacks, however, have often been about issues unrelated to Israel policy.
As all-- 100%-- of the AIPAC ads that have been run this cycle do, it flat out lies about Edwards' record. One member of Congress who supports Edwards told me that she's been watching the pattern and has noticed that AIPAC tends to project the weakest things about the candidates it supports-- in this case Glenn Ivey, who Edwards has beaten before and is leading this time-- onto the candidates it attacks. "They are the most deceitful SuperPAC playing in Democratic politics, more like a Republican group than a Democratic group," she told me last night.
At a news conference Friday, Edwards said the ad “lied about my record” and that her Democratic opponent, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, “knows he’s losing and now he’s desperate.” Ivey has been endorsed by AIPAC.
“My opponent’s got his dark-money super PAC. I’ve got grass-roots support. And you know what? I like those odds,” Edwards said. “I have to tell you a thing about Black women that many of you know already: When you come for us, we don’t run. We double down and we get the job done.”
At the end of the news conference, Edwards’s campaign manager put a laptop on the lectern and pulled up a video message from Pelosi. “When Donna Edwards first represented Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District, and that was for nearly a decade, she was one of the most effective members in Congress,” Pelosi said on the video. “Donna fought hard for Prince George’s County-- for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need and to deliver results.”
United Democracy Project’s foray into the 4th District race indicates that a proxy-war between pro-Israel groups-- AIPAC endorsing Ivey and the liberal J Street endorsing Edwards-- could be making a dent in the race in its final stretch before the July 19 primary. A spokesman for UDP, Patrick Dorton, said this is the sixth race UDP has gotten involved in this year, including helping Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) by spending against their opponents. Dorton said UDP plans to be active in the Maryland race until the primary election day.
The Post previously reported in April that AIPAC had funneled nearly $160,000 in donations from its supporters to Ivey’s campaign before it formally endorsed him. Now, on AIPAC’s list of “featured candidates,” Ivey is at the top and is one of two “key races” prioritized by the organization.
...AIPAC’s fallout with Edwards dates to her first term in 2009, when Edwards voted “present”-- neither for nor against-- on a resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza.” Dorton also cited Edwards’s “present” votes on a 2011 resolution expressing support for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and 2012 legislation to enhance security cooperation between the United States and Israel, among several others.
But Edwards has retained strong support from J Street, which on Friday condemned the UDP ad and called on Ivey to do the same. It commended Edwards for her support for “peace, diplomacy and human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“It’s appalling. These baseless attacks against an experienced Democrat like Donna Edwards are being funded by a hawkish, Republican-aligned group which is actively fundraising for those who threaten our democracy,” Kevin Rachlin, vice president of public affairs for J Street, said in a statement, referring to the fact that AIPAC is also backing Republicans who objected to 2020 election results. “As Speaker Pelosi made clear, these attacks against Donna are baseless. Glenn Ivey must show his commitment to American democracy by calling for United Democracy Project to pull its misleading ads from this race.”
This morning, I reached out to one of the sharpest and most effective young political operatives of the 2022 cycle, Morris Katz, who has worked with several progressive campaigns that have come under vicious attack from AIPAC and DMFI. "AIPAC," explained Katz, "is on a mission to destroy the Democratic Party from within. It’s a front for GOP billionaires and corporations to smear progressive women of color and interfere in our primaries. They pose an existential threat to American Democracy and it’s critical that we have Congresswoman Edwards' back as they try to steal this election."
I spoke with a member of the Congressional Black Caucus last night, a former colleague of Edwards', who told me that Donna was a "principled progressive with a coherent liberal ideology, which isn't that common among CBC members... Some Members admired and respected her, others weren't particularly thrilled about her [political] independence."
Pelosi seems upset that AIPAC has gone rogue and is attacking outstanding Democratic incumbents and attacking Donna Edwards, who she worked closely with in the past. But she should have thought more carefully about what she was doing when she allowed Hakeem Jeffries to weaponize AIPAC and DMFI against progressives like Jessica Cisneros, Michelle Vallejo, Summer Lee and Nina Turner, at least two of whom beat back the AIPAC barrage of GOP sewer money and are on their way to Congress.
As of the March 31 FEC reporting deadline, Ivey had raised $721,081 and Donna had raised $625,191, although she actually raised more than he did when you don't count his self-funding efforts. Blue America has endorsed Donna again-- as we have from the very first two races she ran and defeated conservative Democrat-- now sleaze-ball lobbyist-- Al Wynn. Please consider clicking on the Elect Donna Edwards thermometer on the left and contributing to her campaign (or just click this link here.)
UPDATE: A Note From Rashida
"Across the country, Super PACs aligned with millionaires and billionaires are spending big in the 2022 primaries. These conservative PACs, aligned with Wall Street millionaires and billionaires, aren’t just getting involved in Republican primaries. They’re seeking to replace progressives with Corporate Democrats who will shower them with even more tax cuts.
"They want to maintain an unjust status quo that puts Big Money over the needs of working people and marginalized communities.
"In my re-election race, a Super PAC funded by a hedge fund billionaire has announced that it will spend $1 million in an attempt to defeat me. Their lead funder has already donated to the Republican nominee in Georgia’s Senate race, seeking to defeat Sen. Raphael Warnock, and has backed other pro-Trump Republicans.
"My sister-in-service, Rep. Ilhan Omar, is also up against big money in her Democratic primary. In election after election, Ilhan has had to contend with challengers and ultraconservative groups spending millions to try and defeat her.
"...These Super PACs are coming for us because we aren’t afraid to stand up to the billionaire bullies. We’re demanding the rich and corporations finally pay taxes on all of their income-- and when they do, we can invest in clean drinking water, public education, affordable housing, healthcare, and so much more."