NY pro-Israel group launches PAC targeting far-left Assembly candidates

New York Solidarity Network established the Solidarity PAC to boost pro-Israel Democrats running for state Assembly

Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Photo of the New York State Capital Building in Albany, New York on February 25, 2024.

One of New York’s newest organizations for pro-Israel Democrats is going on offense to prevent anti-Israel candidates at the statewide level from representing the party on the ballot in November. 

The New York Solidarity Network, which has worked since its establishment in 2022 to boost pro-Israel Democrats in state and local races through its donor network, filed paperwork establishing the Solidarity PAC in February. The PAC’s stated aim is to raise money for state Assembly candidates — incumbents facing anti-Israel primary challengers, as well as challengers to far-left state legislators with records of hostility towards the Jewish state. 

The group unveiled its first round of endorsements last week, including nine candidates that it says “are committed to protecting New York’s Jewish community, as well as kitchen table concerns of all New Yorkers, from public safety to education to quality of life.” More endorsements are coming, NYSN’s executive director, Sara Forman, told Jewish Insider in an interview on Wednesday. 

“The intent of this from the get-go was for our work to focus solely on Democratic primaries, because we are trying to hold back the tide of the far left. They have kind of hitched their cart to the horse of anti-Zionism, some of them even moving into the territory of antisemitism,” Forman said. 

New York’s status as a Democratic stronghold has made it ground zero in the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. Far-left candidates and lawmakers in and around New York City have grown increasingly critical of Israel in recent years, especially as the city’s Democratic Socialists of America chapter began towing an increasingly anti-Zionist line. The DSA’s New York City chapter has come under criticism since Oct. 7 for its support of Hamas in the wake of the attacks. 

Thus far, the PAC is backing incumbents such as Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, who faces a DSA-backed primary challenger in his bid to keep representing his Bronx district, and Assemblymember Didi Barrett of Dutchess and Columbia counties, whose primary opponent has the backing of the left-wing Working Families Party. 

The PAC has also endorsed Johanna Carmona in the race for embattled Assemblymember Juan Ardila’s seat. Ardila, a longtime DSA member, has vowed to fight for his job despite facing sexual harassment allegations. He is being challenged in the primary by Carmona and Claire Valdez, who has DSA’s endorsement.

“State and local politics have a far greater impact on communities than any of our federal elections,” Forman said. “And it would be really wise for the Democratic Party to nominate state and local candidates who are more representative of what their communities want, versus what people talk about on MSNBC. It’s the state and local, bread-and-butter issues that are going to determine the future of our country.”

Solidarity has faced criticism from far-left Democrats and DSA allies since its launch. Some have accused the PAC of using Israel as its only litmus test in the candidate selection process, others have described it as a “Republican-backed dark money group” despite them filing with the Federal Election Commission as a traditional hard money PAC. 

Forman pushed back on both charges to JI, saying that Solidarity has gotten behind “really good progressive candidates who want to do really good work on behalf of the public.

“They’re not looking to inject foreign policy into state and local politics. And to be clear, neither are we,” she explained. “The best thing that any local government could do is just ensure functionality, and, frankly, not be something that people have to think or worry about on a day-to-day basis.”

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