first round

AIPAC rolls out first 2024 endorsements, including vulnerable Senate Democrats

'We based these endorsements on the candidates’ record over time on issues concerning the U.S.-Israel relationship,’ spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JI

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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) speaks during a press conference on new legislation to support Holocaust education nationwide at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

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

The endorsement list includes a leading Democratic critic of Israel’s judicial reform plans as well as some of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the Senate. During the 2022 cycle, AIPAC endorsed 365 candidates, mostly incumbent lawmakers, and channeled more than $17 million to its endorsees.

While most of AIPAC’s Democratic House endorsees have not spoken out on the judicial reform issue, AIPAC-endorsed Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Appropriations Committee’s ranking member, who spearheaded a letter backed by J Street that warned that the judicial reform plans could precipitate a “major conflict” in the Middle East and urged the Biden administration to “use all diplomatic tools available” to head off such a situation. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) was the only other AIPAC endorsee who signed onto DeLauro’s letter.

The pro-Israel PAC also backed 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 spoken out separately about the efforts.

“We based these endorsements on the candidates’ record over time on issues concerning the U.S.-Israel relationship,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider,

AIPAC also endorsed Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who put out a statement urging lawmakers not to speak publicly about Israel’s proposed judicial reforms. It has not yet given its backing to Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Gottheimer’s partner on that statement, who was endorsed by AIPAC in 2022.

Wittmann said that the current round of endorsements “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 key roles in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

The pro-Israel PAC also weighed in on several Senate races that are expected to be hotly contested, endorsing incumbent Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kyrsten  Sinema (I-AZ) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), all of whom are likely to face tough reelection races. Neither Manchin nor Sinema has confirmed that they plan to seek reelection, and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who was also endorsed by AIPAC in 2022, is vying for the Arizona Senate nomination.

On the House side, a sizable majority of AIPAC’s current endorsees come from seats currently rated as safe by the Cook Political Report. Just one, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), is rated as a toss-up; her seat is threatened by possible redistricting. Three lawmakers, Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME), Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Don Bacon (R-NE), represent districts that are considered to be competitive. 

An additional seven — Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Young Kim (R-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) — represent safer districts.

Although AIPAC endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in 2022, the group has not yet weighed in on the closely watched Senate primary in California, where Schiff faces progressive Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). It also has not yet endorsed in the Michigan Senate race; AIPAC endorsed Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) for her House race in 2022. 

Wittmann said the group has not yet made any decisions on either Senate race.

AIPAC’s endorsement list also includes a number of prominent House and Senate committee chairs and ranking members, as well as the top members of House Republican and Democratic leadership.

Despite attracting some criticism in the 2022 cycle, AIPAC again endorsed more than 20 Republicans who voted in 2021 against certifying the presidential election results. 

AIPAC’s affiliated super PAC, the United Democracy Project, which spent millions in highly competitive Democratic primaries in 2022, did not respond to a request for comment on its plans for 2024.

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