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Cease-fire coalition

California Senate candidate Barbara Lee to join cease-fire rally with Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Lee has leaned on her support for a cease-fire in Gaza as she seeks to secure the progressive vote in the California Senate primary

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) conducts a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 26, 2023.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), one of the three leading Democratic candidates for California’s Senate seat, is set to participate on Thursday in a digital rally pushing for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

The event, organized by the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)-linked political group Our Revolution in connection with IfNotNow, highlights how Lee, a longtime progressive one of the earliest supporters of a cease-fire in Congress, has leaned on her support for a cease-fire as she seeks to secure the progressive vote in the Senate primary. Lee has polled fairly consistently in third place behind Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA) in her Senate bid.

An announcement about the event from Lee’s campaign claimed she’s the only candidate in the race calling for an “unequivocal ceasefire in Gaza.” Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) is also supporting a cease-fire, conditional upon the release of hostages and the removal of Hamas from power in Gaza.

The event announcement from Our Revolution said the event would touch on “the urgent need for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict and the current effect this conflict is having on the 2024 election landscape” and “the different solutions on the table, including diplomatic and legislative solutions.”

“Our Revolution is hosting a national town hall with their members to discuss issues of global peace and security. As the only member of Congress who voted against the AUMF, the Congressional Representative ranked most effective on foreign affairs, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, a UN representative for the US, and a national progressive leader on issues of diplomacy, Barbara Lee is a natural fit for conversations around global peace,” a Lee campaign spokesperson said in a statement.

Lee recently declined to submit a questionnaire on Israel policy and antisemitism to Democrats for Israel CA, a local pro-Israel group, in contrast with her two competitors. 

Lee had participated in a virtual forum with the group in April 2023, during which she aimed for a conciliatory approach, highlighting her “commitment to a two-state solution and to Israel’s security and a Palestinian state,” and noting that she’s previously taken criticism from both the pro- and anti-Israel communities.

Lee’s focus on the left in the primary appears to be paying off to some degree — despite lagging in the polls statewide, in November Lee narrowly finished first in the California Democratic Party convention, an activist-dominated event. Schiff came in second with 40% and Porter third with 16%, none of the three securing the 60% needed to receive the party’s endorsement.

Lee’s victory was driven partly by her vocal support for a cease-fire, a position that won her cheers at the party convention, according to CalMatters.

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