How vulnerable is ‘The Squad?’ What to watch as several progressives battle a wave of pro-Israel money in the next several months – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

How vulnerable is ‘The Squad?’ What to watch as several progressives battle a wave of pro-Israel money in the next several months

From left: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Rashida Tlaib, and Cori Bush.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images; Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images; Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Just Majority

Members of the progressive “Squad” are facing tough primary races over the next several months.Some have personal scandals, and pro-Israel groups are promising to spend big against them.Here’s how the next few months are about to unfold.

In the next several months, “The Squad” will face its biggest electoral test yet.

The eight progressive Democrats who make up the informal group are known for being the furthest-left lawmakers in the House, their affiliations with the group “Justice Democrats,” and for being young lawmakers of color. All but one, Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, represent deep-blue seats.

In the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks and the resulting war in Gaza, all of them have come under especially strong fire from the right flank of the Democratic Party. They each support a cease-fire in Gaza as the Israeli counteroffensive has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and created a humanitarian crisis. Many have also taken votes against symbolic pro-Israel resolutions in recent months.

After spending big in Democratic primaries in 2022, pro-Israel groups are again working to defeat several Squad members by electing more moderate, pro-Israel Democrats in their place.

United Democracy Project — a super PAC associated with the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC — is sitting on nearly $42 million in cash as of the end of January, much of which comes from Republican megadonors. Other pro-Israel groups, including Democratic Majority for Israel, are also expected to spend significant sums of money.

Several Squad members now face not just well-funded primary challengers, but significant personal scandals that could cost them with former supporters.

In the worst-case scenario for the group, their ranks could be cut in half.

However not all Squad members are endangered, and several of them are expected to cruise to reelection as the group faces primaries across 7 states between now and September.

Here’s what to know about their races.

March 5: Rep. Greg Casar of Texas
Rep. Greg Casar of Texas is one of the few Squad members without a primary challenger.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Greg Casar of Texas may be the sole Squad member who could be called completely unendangered, at least this year.

He’s running unopposed in his deep-blue Texas district, which stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Plus, the deadline has long passed for anyone to file to run against him.

Casar is notably more cautious than other Squad members. Though he’s called for a cease-fire in Gaza, he has taken fewer votes that could be seen as anti-Israel than others. He notably voted for a resolution in July declaring that Israel is “not a racist or apartheid state.”

A former Austin city council member, Casar was first elected to Congress in 2022 with the support of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other progressives. He has since risen to become the whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

April 23: Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania
Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania at the Capitol on January 12, 2024.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

A former Pennsylvania state legislator, Lee may be the poster child for surviving an onslaught of pro-Israel spending.

Pro-Israel groups spent more than $4 million during the 2022 cycle in an effort to keep her out of Congress — not just during the hotly-contested Democratic primary that she won by less than 100 votes, but during the general election.

This year, Lee is in a stronger position, raising over $1 million in the last three months of 2023. She also has the backing of House Democratic leadership and the advantage of incumbency.

She also faces two opponents in the April 23 primary who could potentially split the vote against her, including Edgewood Borough Councilwoman Bhavini Patel and Laurie MacDonald, the president and CEO of the Center for Victims.

June 25: Reps. AOC and Jamaal Bowman of New York
Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

On June 25, Democratic primary voters will head to the polls in New York.

Ocasio-Cortez is almost certainly safe. She currently has no primary challenger, and she defeated Democratic opponents in 2020 and 2022 with over 70% of the vote.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, on the other hand, is among the most endangered Squad members.

He faces Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a well-known local politician backed by AIPAC, in a district with large numbers of Jewish voters who may take issue with his stances on Israel.

In addition to Bowman’s October fire alarm scandal — for which he was censured by House Republicans — recent reports have also uncovered his history of trafficking in conspiracy theories related to 9/11, for which he has apologized.

August 6: Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri
Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib on the Capitol steps on November 7, 2023.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On August 6, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush face primary elections in their respective states of Michigan and Missouri.

Tlaib may be the most controversial Squad member, having faced a bipartisan censure for her rhetoric on Israel, including her use of the phrase “from the river to the sea.”

Yet Tlaib is unlikely to be defeated. Following redistricting, her seat is now based primarily around Dearborn, a community with a majority of Muslim and Arab-descent voters who largely share her views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She also raised more than $3 million — more than many Senate candidates — in the last 3 months of 2023, and currently faces no primary challenger, with the deadline to file in June.

Bush, on the other hand, is more endangered.

She currently faces a Department of Justice investigation for using campaign funds to pay her now-husband for security services, though she has denied any wrongdoing.

She’s facing off against Wesley Bell, a local prosecutor in St. Louis County as well as former state legislator Maria Chapelle-Nadal.

One recent poll found Bush trailing Bell.

August 13: Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota at the Capitol on February 7, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar has faced competitive primary races every cycle since 2018, when she was first elected to her Minneapolis district. In 2022, she defeated Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Councilman, by just over 2 percentage points.

This year, she’s facing a rematch against Samuels and two other candidates, attorney Sarah Gad and veteran Tim Peterson.

Omar probably remains a favorite for reelection. She handily outraised her opponents in the last 3 months of 2023, bringing in $1.6 million versus Samuels’s $355,000. In 2022, UDP only spent $350,000 to boost Samuels.

But that could change this year, especially after the unexpectedly close result last cycle. All three of Omar’s challengers are hoping to garner the support of pro-Israel donors.

September 3: Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts speaks at Northeastern University on October 16, 2023.

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is almost certainly safe. She has yet to earn a primary challenger, didn’t face one in 2022, and defeated nominal opposition in 2020.

Much like Casar, Pressley has tread a more cautious line than other Squad members.

She was a longtime Boston City Councilor before she challenged former Rep. Mike Capuano for his Boston-era House seat, and she’s said to be interested in running for US Senate down the line.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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