eye on 2022

JDCA announces first slate of 2022 endorsements

Initial round of picks comes earlier than usual because ‘there is so much on the line,’ CEO Halie Soifer told JI

Stephen B. Morton/AP Photo

Rev. Raphael Warnock waves to the crowd as he leaves the stage during a drive-in rally, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Savannah, Ga.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America will release its first round of 2022 congressional endorsements on Tuesday ahead of what is expected to be a challenging cycle for Democrats.

The initial batch of endorsements for next year’s midterm elections includes all of the 13 Senate Democrats who are up for reelection in November 2022, the majority of whom are viewed as safe. But three vulnerable incumbents are likely to face competitive races during an election cycle in which the Democrats will have little room for error as they seek to maintain their tenuous hold on both chambers.

Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted its rankings for a trio of highly consequential Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, re-labeling them toss-ups after previously categorizing the seats — held by Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) — as more favorable for Democrats. 

“In all these states, we believe the Jewish vote can impact the outcome of these elections,” Halie Soifer, JDCA’s CEO, told Jewish Insider in an interview on Monday. “In some of these states, it will play an even larger role, but in states like Arizona and Georgia, where we helped elect Sens. Kelly and Warnock just last year, we know that our efforts were critical — and we’re preparing to do it again next year.”

Kelly and Warnock are seeking full terms after defeating Republican incumbents in two closely watched special elections last year and in early 2021, respectively.

The 10 other Democratic incumbents JDCA is backing in the coming cycle include Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as well as Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the longest-serving member in the Senate, announced earlier this month that he would not seek reelection at the end of his term next year. Last week, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) announced that he would run to succeed the 81-year-old senator, likely clearing the Democratic field in the open-seat primary.

JDCA, which boasts 15 state chapters — including in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, California, Colorado and New York — is making its endorsements earlier than it has in previous cycles, according to Soifer. “We recognize that there is so much on the line,” she said.

For each race, JDCA and its political arm “will mobilize Jewish voters with regular phone and text banks that engage thousands of activists,” according to a statement provided to JI prior to the announcement. Additionally, JDCA “will add canvassing for 2022, and continue JDCA PAC’s successful targeted digital advertising to reach millions of key voters.”

The group, which focuses on pro-Israel advocacy as well as other causes such as combating antisemitism and promoting gun safety reform, approved its new round of endorsements at a recent three-day leadership retreat in Washington, D.C., at which Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, was among the keynote speakers, Soifer said. 

“This will be the first of many rounds of endorsements,” Soifer told JI, without elaborating on a timetable for future announcements.

JDCA is first among the leading national Jewish Democratic groups to endorse widely in the coming cycle as a number of congressional maps, yet to be approved, have created an unpredictable political landscape.

Democratic Majority for Israel, which most recently unleashed an attack ad against a candidate who was critical of Israeli policies in a South Florida special election this month, hasn’t revealed whom it plans to support in the midterms. Likewise, J Street, the left-leaning Israel advocacy group, hasn’t released a comprehensive list of endorsements, though a spokesperson told JI in June that it is backing Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) for reelection. 

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which released its initial batch of endorsements in April — including Reps. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Young Kim (R-CA) — has yet to follow up with new announcements.

Pro-Israel America, the bipartisan advocacy group, has been comparatively aggressive. The organization, which released a new round of six House endorsements on Monday, is now backing more than 70 congressional candidates in the 2022 midterms.

Though elections forecasters have suggested that the midterms augur well for Republicans, particularly following Glenn Youngkin’s recent upset over Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Soifer was relatively sanguine in assessing Democratic prospects for 2022.

“We’re going to do everything we can to deploy our strategy, which has been successful in the past two elections, of mobilizing Jewish voters in key districts and states in order to win elections,” she said.