DMFI PAC wades into heated House races in New York, Phoenix, Wisconsin

The new slate of endorsements includes John Avlon, a former CNN commentator hoping to flip a swing seat on Long Island held by Rep. Nick LaLota

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John Avlon attends The Future Of Democracy with Garry Kasparov and John Avlon at the 92NY, New York on May 14, 2023 in New York City.

Democratic Majority for Israel’s political arm, DMFI PAC, is wading into three hotly contested upcoming House primaries in New York, Arizona and Wisconsin, the group announced exclusively to Jewish Insider on Wednesday.

The new slate of endorsements includes John Avlon, a former CNN commentator hoping to flip a swing seat on Long Island held by Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY), and Rebecca Cooke, a small business owner running to unseat Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) in western Wisconsin. 

DMFI PAC is also backing Yassamin Ansari, a former vice mayor of Phoenix, in an open-seat House race to succeed Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who is now running for Senate. 

In a statement to JI, Mark Mellman, DMFI PAC’s chairman, described the group of endorsees as “three promising Democratic candidates from wildly different backgrounds vying to represent three wildly different districts who are united in their commitment to the Democratic agenda, including strong support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

“These pro-Israel candidates are playing a crucial role in maintaining our party’s support for the U.S.-Israel alliance and in retaking the House majority from extreme MAGA Republicans,” Mellman added.

DMFI PAC also claimed in its announcement that the three candidates are all “facing Democratic primary opponents who would not be pro-Israel champions in Congress,” but did not elaborate further.

On eastern Long Island, Avlon is competing in an increasingly contentious primary next week against Nancy Goroff, a Jewish Democrat who is endorsed by J Street, the progressive Israel advocacy group.

For her part, Cooke, backed by J Street as well as the Jewish Democratic Council of America, is facing off in an August primary against a top rival, state Rep. Katrina Shankland, who claims support from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), an outspoken critic of Israel, in addition to J Street.

The Cook Political Report has called the LaLota race “likely Republican” while rating the Van Orden contest “lean Republican.” The freshmen lawmakers have both been endorsed by AIPAC’s political action committee.

In the race for a safely blue House seat in Phoenix, meanwhile, Ansari, the first Iranian-American elected to hold public office in Arizona, is engaged in a heated race with Raquel Terán, a progressive leader whose reluctance to clarify her positions on key Middle East policy issues has drawn scrutiny from pro-Israel activists. The primary will be held on July 30.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of DMFI PAC,” Ansari said in a statement. “With my background in foreign policy, diplomacy and bringing people together, I look forward to working towards shared progressive, Democratic ideals.”

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