Unprecedented Spending by AIPAC, Billionaire SuperPACs Fail in Efforts to Decide Elections in Pennsylvania and Oregon

May 18, 2022

Following Tuesday’s primary election results, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement:

“On Tuesday, J Street-backed candidates prevailed up and down the ballot in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oregon — winning nominations for Senate seats in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and for the House in Pennsylvania and Oregon.

An unprecedented onslaught of millions of dollars in independent expenditures by AIPAC-affiliated groups and billionaire-funded SuperPACs failed in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District where Summer Lee has declared victory and in Oregon’s 6th District where Andrea Salinas has emerged victorious.

In PA-12, AIPAC’s SuperPAC and PAC, along with their affiliate Democratic Majority for Israel, spent over $3 million to attack and smear principled progressive Democrat Summer Lee – an outrageous sum greater than the combined total spent by the campaigns of Lee and her opponent Steve Irwin.

In OR-06, a crypto-currency billionaire and other SuperPACs spent a staggering $13 million to try to elect their chosen candidate and defeat Andrea Salinas – and thankfully failed.

On the other hand, AIPAC’s immense spending very clearly impacted two North Carolina districts, NC-01 and NC-04, where it spent well over $2 million in each race to defeat progressive Democratic candidates, dwarfing the money spent by the candidates themselves and other outside groups.

This kind of overwhelming outside spending – driven by a hawkish, right-wing foreign policy agenda that is completely out of touch with most Democratic voters – deeply challenges the underpinnings of America’s political system.

AIPAC’s new political strategy is posing a profound test to the health of American democracy. The country’s basic democratic values and institutions are under severe stress — as is liberal democracy around the world, including in Israel. Ethno-nationalists and autocrats globally are working to erode the values that have underpinned the liberal world order for over seven decades. And, across the US, far-right candidates are building support for hateful, divisive ideologies and conspiracy theories – ideas that have and will continue to lead to a rise in bigotry and violence against vulnerable minorities, including American Jews.

J Street has urged all pro-Israel and Jewish American political organizations to pledge that they will not endorse or support candidates who voted to overturn the 2020 election or in any way supported Donald Trump’s Big Lie.

AIPAC has refused. Rather than deploy its considerable resources to confront those who threaten our democracy, AIPAC has endorsed and funded them. It has chosen to endorse and support 109 Members of Congress who voted to uphold Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” by decertifying the 2020 election results after the insurrection on January 6th. It stands with far-right Republicans like Elise Stefanik who have propagated the incredibly dangerous “Great Replacement” myth.

Instead of using its considerable weight to defeat threats to democracy, AIPAC is raising money from GOP megadonors, endorsing insurrectionists and spending unprecedented millions in Democratic primaries to try to defeat progressives who dare to even lightly question or critique Israeli government policy toward the Palestinians. All of this is done under the cover of the ironically-named “United Democracy Project.”

All of the candidates in these races — Democrats and Republicans — will continue to support Israel’s security. All are opposed to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. Those issues are not at stake in this election. But the future of our democracy is.

Senate and House races across the country will provide a clear choice between candidates who will stand guard over American democracy and those who will pose a potentially fatal threat to it. A group that chooses to empower the existential threat to democracy instead of confronting it has no business shaping the outcome of Democratic primaries, and should face rebuke by Democratic candidates and leaders.

J Street, through JStreetPAC and the J Street Action Fund, will remain committed to supporting and defending candidates who will fight for democracy, justice and peace in the United States, Israel and the wider world. Today, we celebrate the victories of our supported candidates, John Fetterman, Cheri Beasley, Summer Lee and Andrea Salinas.”