JStreetPAC Scores Big in 2012 Election

November 7th, 2012


November 7, 2012

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, (202)448-1600 (o) or (202)279-0005 (c), 

JStreetPAC Scores Big in 2012 Election

50 percent more Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Senators, Representatives headed to 113th Congress

PAC distributes $1.8 million to federal candidates, making it nation's largest pro-Israel PAC again

WASHINGTON— JStreetPAC emerged from the 2012 election as the nation's largest pro-Israel PAC and with 50 percent more endorsed Members of the House and Senate than last cycle.

JStreetPAC, the largest pro-Israel political action committee in every cycle since its founding in 2008, broke its own fundraising record again this year, disbursing more than $1.8 million to 71 pro-Israel, pro-peace candidates. Seventy of the candidates won, including all of the incumbents. In addition, J Street backed its candidates with advertising and direct mail.

“JStreetPAC’s resounding success speaks to the deep hunger among American Jews and friends of Israel for a political voice that represents their belief that American leadership is vital to achieving a two-state solution and to securing Israel’s Jewish, democratic future,” said JStreetPAC President Jeremy Ben-Ami.

Seven Senate and 63 House endorsees from 26 states will serve in the next Congress. Among them are the Chairs or Ranking Members of five committees, including the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Armed Services Committee, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of 32 subcommittees, as well as the chairs of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Twenty-two of the endorsed members are women and seven are Jewish.

This year, the PAC endorsed seven Senatorial candidates, all of whom emerged victorious. The Senate slate, which has more than doubled in size since 2010, included pro-Israel leaders Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA), Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). The PAC also backed winning candidates in some of the most competitive Senate races in the country, raising more than $100,000 each for Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Governor Tim Kaine (VA) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM).

On the House side, 63 of 64 endorsed candidates won. Ami Bera’s race in California’s seventh district may still face a recount. Among the victors were six candidates who ran against members of what J Street calls the “One-State Caucus,” comprised of Members of Congress who promote policies that put Israel’s Jewish democratic future at risk.

Departing from the traditional pro-Israel PAC playbook’s singular focus on incumbents, JStreetPAC demonstrated its willingness to back emerging leaders who believe US leadership to achieve a two-state solution is a critical US and Israeli interest.

“Backing challengers is a risk, but a necessary one, when the goal is to fix the broken politics surrounding Israel in this country. You can’t, after all, keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” J Street Political Director Daniel Kalik said. “We’re giving voters real options in choosing leaders who share their vision of what it means to be pro-Israel and demonstrating to candidates who take extreme positions on Israel that there is a political cost.”

In Illinois’ eighth district, decorated Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth successfully took on Tea Party-backed Representative Joe Walsh, winning handily with 55 percent of the vote. It was Walsh who sponsored legislation calling for the annexation of the West Bank and doubled down on that assertion in a Washington Times op-ed, stating, “Everyone who continues to cling to the delusion of a two-state solution is insane.” In addition to raising $90,000 for Duckworth, J Street ran television advertisements in the district and sent a mail piece to all the homes of Jewish voters there.

Meanwhile, in Florida’s 18th district, endorsee Patrick Murphy defeated Tea Party firebrand Rep. Allen West. West went so far as to say that American Jews who support Middle East peace are “not as pro-Israel as they should be.” Murphy prevailed with $30,000 in support from JStreetPAC, as well as strategic web advertising and a mail piece behind him.

In the handful of instances in this cycle when endorsees were attacked by right-wing groups for their positions on Israel, JStreetPAC turned the original offense into opportunity. When the Emergency Committee for Israel attempted to label Tammy Baldwin an “extremist” and her opponent, former Governor Tommy Thompson, called her “anti-Israel and “anti-Jewish,” JStreetPAC raised tens of thousands of dollars for Baldwin, mounted an earned and paid media campaign in her defense, and turned out droves of activists to support her at community events across the state.

“JStreetPAC’s proven track record of success speaks to the wellspring of support that exists for candidates who stand up for pro-Israel, pro-peace policies. Candidates like Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin, and Lois Capps who took our endorsement and share our positions did come under attack and still won convincingly,” said Ben-Ami.

JStreetPAC’s innovative use of online fundraising mobilized thousands of small donors in parallel to a network of high-level political donors. The PAC also held dozens of fundraising events attended by the candidates across the country. In total, nearly 3500 of people have contributed to pro-Israel, pro-peace candidates through the PAC this cycle, with an average donation size of $174.