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AIPAC Is Getting Republicans to Donate to Democrats

Getting solid Republicans to donate to pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ, pro-labor, anti-gun Democrats is a tall hill to climb, but AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is pulling it off. Most of those Republicans are one-issue voters: They support Israel's right to exist and are willing to donate to Democrats who support Israel. AIPAC is already unusual in that it is one of the few lobbying groups that gets money from both Democrats and Republicans, but getting Republicans to support a liberal Democrat is quite a feat. In doing so, AIPAC has enraged progressives, which AIPAC is fine with.

The race that has attracted the most outrage from progressives is the Democratic primary in NY-16, which covers the lower half of Westchester County and a smidgen of the upper Bronx. It is also (V)'s former home district. It used to be as red as Idaho, where a Democrat couldn't be elected deputy assistant dogcatcher, even if he had a 30-year sterling history of catching dogs somewhere else. Now it is D+20, so whoever wins the Democratic primary will win the general election in a landslide.

The current representative is Squad member Jamaal Bowman, no friend of Israel. Bowman mostly grew up in NYC and New Jersey—not in the district, but not far from it, although the issues in Harlem are very different from the issues in leafy, affluent, college-educated Westchester. Bowman was first elected to public office in 2020 when he ran in NY-16 and won the primary and general election. He was easily reelected in 2022.

He is being challenged by George Latimer, who was born in the county and grew up there. After working in the hospitality industry for some years, he ran for the Rye town council and won. Then he was elected to the state Assembly four times and the state Senate once. He is now serving his second term as Westchester County executive. He is clearly a local and has never lost an election.

But the big issue here is not carpetbaggery, it's Israel. That is the only issue where the candidates are far apart. Both candidates are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, etc. So this is a clear test of how Israel will play as a campaign issue when a classic liberal Democrat is running against a progressive Democrat in a suburban district that is in no danger of going Republican. The primary is on June 25.

AIPAC traditionally gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans, although there were some exceptions, especially for Republicans who are especially outspokenly pro-Israel. This cycle, AIPAC is getting involved in primaries more than in the past. It is also giving more money to Republicans this time because so many Democrats have abandoned Israel on account of Gaza. Here are the top 20 AIPAC beneficiaries this cycle:

Candidate Donation Candidate type Race
George Latimer $1.61M Democratic challenger NY-16
Jacky Rosen $1.19M Democratic incumbent NV Senate
Bob Menendez* $1.07M Democratic incumbent NJ Senate
Wesley Bell $869.3K Democratic challenger MO-01
Hakeem Jeffries $768.3K Democratic incumbent NY-08
Josh Gottheimer $604.6K Democratic incumbent NJ-05
Ritchie Torres $572.9K Democratic incumbent NY-15
Pete Aguilar $521.4K Democratic incumbent CA-33
John Barrasso $419.8K Republican incumbent WY Senate
Jon Tester $418.8K Democratic incumbent MT Senate
Mario Diaz-Balart $328.2K Republican incumbent FL-26
Deb Fischer $326.6K Republican incumbent NE Senate
Don Bacon $323.0K Republican incumbent NE-02
Ted Cruz $322.3K Republican incumbent TX Senate
Mike Johnson $315.1K Republican incumbent LA-04
Jake Auchincloss $306.9K Democratic incumbent MA-04
Kevin Cramer $302.2K Republican incumbent ND Senate
Maria Cantwell $299.0K Democratic incumbent WA Senate
Marsha Blackburn $298.2K Republican incumbent TN Senate
Mark Messmer $297.9K Republican open primary IN-08

* AIPAC stopped supporting Sen. Bob Menendez after he was indicted.

There are many more who get smaller amounts. But remember, in many House races, even $100K is serious money. (V)

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