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Pro-Israel candidates win key primaries in Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia

“Reps. Miller and Bacon are both fierce advocates for their constituents and strong allies to the Jewish community and America’s key strategic partner, Israel,” the Republican Jewish Coalition stated.

Ballot box. Credit: I'm friday/Shutterstock.
Ballot box. Credit: I'm friday/Shutterstock.

Pro-Israel candidates fared well in primary races across the nation on Tuesday, although their opponents largely shared their views about the Jewish state.

Sarah Elfreth, a Maryland state senator, won the Democratic primary for the state’s 3rd Congressional District with $4 million in spending from AIPAC’s United Democracy Project super PAC.

She defeated Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer who rose to national prominence for his actions defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot in 2021. The left-wing, Israel-focused advocacy group J Street endorsed him.

Dunn accused the AIPAC group of being a “right-wing super PAC” funded by donors who support former President Donald Trump—an increasingly common accusation that left-wing candidates are leveling about the non-partisan AIPAC.

“Elfreth is an experienced bipartisan leader and has clearly stated her support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and Israel’s right to defend itself,” the AIPAC super PAC wrote in a victory message on Tuesday. 

One of Tuesday’s highest-stakes races, to replace retiring Maryland senator Ben Cardin, had relatively low stakes for Israel.

Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), founder and co-owner of Total Wine & More, and his opponent Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County executive, expressed support for the Jewish state. But Alsobrooks won the primary, despite Trone spending more than $60 million of his own money on the race.

Rep. David Trone
Rep. David Trone (D-Md.). Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography.

Trone was arguably the more pro-Israel of the two, with J Street endorsing Alsobrooks, who has backed U.S. President Joe Biden’s position that Washington should cut off aid to Israel if it conducts a large-scale military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza.

She told The Washington Post on Friday that she agrees with Biden that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must do more to allow the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to stop the pain and suffering of innocent civilians.”

Alsobrooks will now face former Maryland governor Larry Hogan, a popular Republican, in what is expected to be a key battleground state for control of the U.S. Senate.

Hogan will likely make a close and expensive contest for a Senate seat that might otherwise have easily gone to a Democrat in a state where more than 65% of voters supported Biden in 2020.

‘Fierce advocates for their constituents’

In other states, pro-Israel groups touted the victories of two Republican incumbents, Reps. Don Bacon in Nebraska and Carol Miller in West Virginia, over challengers backed by House Freedom Caucus chairman Bob Good (R-Va.).

Rep. Don Bacon
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Ill.). Credit: U.S. House of Representatives Photo.

“Reps. Miller and Bacon are fierce advocates for their constituents and strong allies to the Jewish community and America’s key strategic partner, Israel,” stated Norm Coleman and Matt Brooks, national chairman and CEO, respectively, of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Miller’s challenger in West Virginia, Derrick Evans, was convicted of a felony and sentenced to three months in prison in 2022 for his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

In a Feb. 14 interview, a far-right radio host asked Evans, “Is it kind of over the line for me to draw the conclusion that Israel had a whole lot to do with Jan. 6?” “No, it’s not,” replied Evans, per a transcript on the left-wing watchdog Media Matters for America.

“And to your point, look, the people who are covering this up and working tirelessly to cover this up, they’re the ones who stole the election from President Trump and the American people,” Evans added. “They’re the ones who orchestrated Jan. 6.”

In response, the host asked Evans: “Are you saying that Jews stole the election?” 

“I think that that’s a good question to ask right now,” Evans said, per the transcript. “I don’t know who stole the election, but I think that it’s a fair question to ask right now as I think we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Bob Good, the House Freedom Caucus chairman, and several other members of the caucus, which represents the most conservative bloc in Congress, have drawn the ire of both the RJC and Republican leadership in recent weeks over their votes against the foreign aid supplemental spending package, with billions of dollars for Israel.

“Let there be no doubt: If you don’t stand with the Jewish community, if you don’t stand with Israel, the RJC will work to defeat you,” Coleman and Brooks stated.

Good faces a primary challenger of his own in John McGuire, a Virginia state senator, on June 18.

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