Washington congressional candidate fires campaign manager over pro-Hamas social media activity

State Sen. Emily Randall, running to succeed Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), says she supports Israel despite anti-Israel figures in her orbit

Washington State Sen. Emily Randall, one of two leading Democratic candidates in the state’s 6th Congressional District, fired her campaign manager last week after Jewish Insider contacted her campaign about the individual’s extensive anti-Israel and pro-Hamas social media activity.

Randall is running for the seat of retiring Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a centrist who is supporting Randall’s Democratic opponent, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

Randall’s now-former campaign manager, Anna Carlson-Ziegler, has a history of liking extreme anti-Israel posts on Instagram, according to screenshots viewed by JI. 

Those included posts describing “Palestinian resistance as a natural and praiseworthy response to Zionist occupation and brutality,” posts describing Hamas as “the Palestinian resistance” and praising its continued survival, repeated calls for “the fall of the Zionist regime,” a post mourning the death of convicted terrorist and murderer Walid Daqqa and an Oct. 7 post denying that the attack by “Palestinian militants” was unprovoked.

Other posts Carlson-Ziegler liked included ones dismissing or denying the atrocities on Oct. 7 as propaganda, describing President Joe Biden as a war criminal and supporting various acts of vandalism and blockages of university, private and public property by anti-Israel demonstrators. 

Randall said she wasn’t aware of Carlson-Ziegler’s activity until she was contacted by JI. Randall said she spoke to Carlson-Ziegler and, upon “confirming social media activity consistent with what you described, I made the decision to end their employment with our campaign.” Carlson-Ziegler did not respond to a request for comment.

Randall sought to distance herself from the views expressed by her former staffer, adding that she has been unequivocal that she “will stand with Israel against efforts to delegitimize or isolate Israel as a member of Congress,” stand against antisemitism and work closely with Jewish communities in Washington and locally to work toward a “shared vision of a more peaceful world.”

“As an LGBTQ+ person and the grandchild of people who left their home to find a place to live with less discrimination, I feel a great connection to Israel. Israel is the only country in the region where I could live openly with my wife, Alison,” Randall said. “Although my circumstances are quite different from many Israelis, I feel like I can understand that desire to find a safe harbor, and what Israel is and represents to Jewish people all over the world.”

She unequivocally condemned the Oct. 7 attack as “vicious, unprovoked, and unlawful,” adding that she “stands with Israel and the world” in wanting to see the hostages returned “and Hamas eradicated with no further loss of innocent life.”

But despite her stated support for Israel, Randall has attracted support from figures who have also expressed strong anti-Israel views, beyond her campaign manager. 

Individuals who have hosted fundraisers for Randall have, according to screenshots viewed by JI, posted messages claiming that “the Jews will never be able to live [in the Middle East] in peace because they left here black but came back white,” praised the First Intifada, claimed that Israel allowed the Oct. 7 terror attacks to happen so it could retaliate against Palestinians and called for ending U.S. aid to Israel.

Randall said she “unequivocally” does not support these sentiments, without addressing the issue further.

State Sen. Yasmin Trudeau, who was at one point a featured endorser on Randall’s website, also has a history of posting inflammatory rhetoric about Israel, according to social media screenshots viewed by JI. She has argued that “there are not two sides” to the war in Gaza and shared an Instagram reel comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.

Trudeau also liked posts on Instagram describing Israel as “IsraHell,” valorizing the man who self-immolated outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington and denying antisemitism in protests at Columbia University. Trudeau did not respond to a request for comment.

“Israel has exercised its lawful right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, and has the unalienable right to do so against any future attacks from internal or external malign actors, such as Hamas or Iran. In Congress, I will support Israel’s obligation of self-defense and our country’s support for that right,” Randall told JI.

“Simply put, our campaign has built an energetic, incredible and broad coalition with significantly more endorsers than our opponent. We have more community leaders, more elected officials, more unionized workers, and more organizations endorsing us,” Randall said. “Every organization who backs me has endorsed our delegation’s leaders in past elections, including my top endorser, Sen. Patty Murray.”

Randall went to great lengths in written responses to JI to outline her support for Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism and oppose conditions on military aid. 

She said that “Israel has exercised its lawful right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, and has the unalienable right to do so against any future attacks from internal or external malign actors, such as Hamas or Iran. In Congress, I will support Israel’s obligation of self-defense and our country’s support for that right.”

The Washington lawmaker said she agrees with the administration that Hamas bears responsibility for the lack of a cease-fire, and emphasized that Hamas “uses [Palestinian] civilians as human shields.” She said the U.S. should continue to work for a cease-fire that includes the return of hostages.

Randall said that “any conversation” about the U.S.-Israel relationship should be “rooted in the fundamental understanding that Israel existed before the modern state of Israel was founded, and has the fundamental right to exist.”

And she does not support additional conditions on U.S. aid to Israel “as long as the Israeli government acts in compliance with international law.”

At the same time, she said that the U.S. “must continue to expect the best of our allies” and that she shares concerns that “President Biden, my Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors, and members of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s cabinet have had with his actions over the last eight months,” even as she “strongly support[s]” the relationship and “look[s] forward to finding ways to strengthen our already strong bonds.”

Asked about the administration’s decision to withhold some arms from Israel, Randall said she supports the administration “and its efforts to broker peace and support Israel’s defense as we continue to work towards a two-state solution.”

To address threats to both Israel and U.S. forces from Iran and its proxies, Randall said the U.S. should use “the economic and diplomatic means at our disposal” to “end Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons,” as well as “support Iranians against human rights abuses.”

Randall rejected the far-left push — endorsed by some of the groups that support her —  to vote “uncommitted” in Democratic primaries, saying she’s “proud” to endorse Biden and urges all supporters to do the same. She described former President Donald Trump as an “existential threat to both the United States and Israel.”

Franz, Randall’s leading Democratic rival in the primary, expressed consistently pro-Israel views in an interview with JI and in a separate position paper on Middle East policy, emphasizing the importance of standing with Israel in the wake of Oct. 7, while calling for the immediate release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.

“I believe that Israel, like any sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself against threats. Hamas must be destroyed so the events of October 7th cannot repeat and peace can be on the horizon again,” Franz said in her position paper. “The special relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted in common values of democracy and equality and has stood for decades against threats to these values. It is more important today than ever.”

Franz told JI she holds Hamas responsible for the continued lack of a cease-fire, adding that the terrorist group “must accept a cease-fire deal” and that the U.S. “must continue to use every lever to put pressure on them to do so.”

“I believe that public fissures in the U.S.-Israel relationship embolden Hamas and Hezbollah, which ultimately only leads to more death and destruction,” Franz told JI. “We must continue to stand by our close ally.”

Pressed on what should happen if Hamas continues to refuse a deal, Franz said that the U.S. should “continue to use every diplomatic tool available to bring the hostages home and protect civilians in Gaza while giving Israel the ability to prevail against Hamas and deter a full-scale war with Hezbollah and Iran.”

“We need to support the moral urgency of destroying Hamas while also pushing for the legal and moral obligation to feed and protect the civilians of Gaza,” Franz continued.

The clearest point of difference between Franz and Randall on Israel policy is on the issue of weapons transfers the administration has withheld, a move Franz said she does not support.

“I believe that public fissures in the U.S.-Israel relationship embolden Hamas and Hezbollah, which ultimately only leads to more death and destruction,” Franz told JI. “We must continue to stand by our close ally.”

She added that she doesn’t support additional conditions on aid to Israel, noting that there are already conditions on U.S. aid globally “and we must ensure that any nation that receives it abides by these conditions.”

Franz also expressed concern about the ongoing threats posed by Iran and Hezbollah to Israel. To address Iran, Franz said that Congress should “do everything it can through economic and diplomatic actions” to counter Iran’s nuclear program and other malign activities and aggression.

Franz pledged to travel to Israel in her first term in Congress, adding that she had been scheduled to visit in her capacity as state lands commissioner but the trip ultimately did not move forward.

Closer to home, Randall said that her personal experiences as a queer Latina help her empathize with the fear that the Jewish community is facing from growing antisemitism.

“Elected officials must listen to what their Jewish constituents are saying: Antisemitism is happening in communities across the country, and governments at all levels must take action,” Randall said. “Antisemitism is on the rise and we need to take it seriously.”

She highlighted her support for legislation in Washington to strengthen criminal penalties for bias-related vandalism. She said she would support legislation, including the Antisemitism Awareness Act, to codify a definition of antisemitism. 

The Antisemitism Awareness Act, which codifies the use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of Antisemitism in Department of Education civil rights investigations, has divided progressives in Congress, with 70 Democrats — most of whom skew progressive — voting against the legislation. 

Randall also supports the Countering Antisemitism Act, which would implement a variety of new provisions to combat antisemitism, including a White House official dedicated to the issue, and seeks to reinforce the administration’s national strategy on antisemitism.

Addressing protests on college campuses, Randall said that the U.S. must uphold First Amendment rights while also protecting “Jewish students who are under threat,” adding that antisemitism is a “serious threat” and “has no place on college campuses.”

Franz likewise expressed support for the IHRA definition, and said in her position paper that the U.S. must “stand against attempts to delegitimize the homeland of the Jewish people.” She said she supports the administration’s antisemitism strategy as well.

“I’ve been saddened and angered to witness the rise in anti-semitism both at home and abroad in response to the October 7th attacks,” Franz said in her position paper. “From vandalism at synagogues to students feeling threatened on college campuses, our leaders must speak clearly and unequivocally that this kind of hate has no place in the world today.”

Randall is endorsed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Reps. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), as well as a handful of out-of-state House members. Franz was recruited by Kilmer, a leader of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition.

Franz had the edge in fundraising at the end of the first quarter, with $820,000 to Randall’s $529,000.

Washington runs a top-two primary system, where candidates from all parties compete on the primary ballot, with the leading two vote-getters in the Aug. 6 primary moving onto the general election. There’s an outside chance Randall and Franz’s battle could continue through to November, but it’s more likely one of them faces off against Republican state Sen. Drew MacEwen, the top GOP candidate.

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