Progressive Democrats who’ve condemned Israel over its war offensive in Gaza are demanding that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries do more to protect them against primary challenges from pro-Israel Democrats.
In a closed-door meeting at party headquarters last Thursday, the three lawmakers who lead the Progressive Caucus’ PAC met with Jeffries and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm. They told the Democratic leader he needed to keep the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee out of Democratic primaries.
In fact, the progressive leaders argued, Democrats’ efforts to recapture the House next year might depend on it.
“If we have to spend a lot of money to keep our incumbents in office, then that’s less money that gets spent on frontline districts and districts we can pick up, so it is a real problem,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-chair of the PAC. “And that’s why it’s really important to be clear to AIPAC that they need to stand down and that we are going to vigorously defend our members.”
The Israel-Hamas war is forcing Jeffries to navigate a treacherous divide between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian members just as he’s gearing up for a battle to retake the chamber next year.
Jeffries has committed his party will support reelecting incumbents, including those who’ve harshly criticized Israel over its response to the Hamas attack last month. His vow comes as several of them, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), have drawn primary opponents backed by deep-pocketed groups aligned with Israel. Jeffries heard out the progressives’ concerns about AIPAC, a group that he still maintains close ties to, according to a person familiar with the conversation, and talked through the dynamics of several of the races. [Continue reading…]