Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Has AIPAC Invested Any Substantial Money in GOP Primaries?

Yesterday was a big primary day, and there are a lot of storylines being bandied about. One close to my neck of the political woods has been AIPAC's heavy investments in Democratic primaries attacking candidates it perceives as insufficiently pro-Israel. Their success rate was mixed -- two AIPAC-backed Democrats, Valerie Foushee and Don Davis, won in North Carolina, but in Pennsylvania Summer Lee looks to have narrowly defeated Steve Irwin for the Democratic nomination in a Pittsburgh-area seat where AIPAC dumped $2.7 million in on Irwin's behalf (AIPAC spent over $2 million on each of the North Carolina races).

Seven million dollars is quite a bit of cash on three Democratic primaries (in another race, AIPAC has backed Rep. Henry Cuellar in his primary run-off against Jessica Cisneros to the tune of $1.2 million). My question is whether there are any GOP races where AIPAC has spent equivalent sums seeking to ensure that its preferred candidate wins (or -- perhaps more saliently -- that a dispreferred candidate does not)?

I haven't heard of such expenditures, though I won't pretend I'm such an eagle eye that I'd necessarily spot them if they'd occurred -- that's why I'm asking! Still, my guess is that the answer is no, they haven't (this disclosure also suggests that AIPAC's United Democracy Project super PAC has only spent money on Democratic races). And the reason for my guess is that there aren't any credible Republican candidates whose positions AIPAC considers unacceptable on Israel. I could dimly imagine that they might have gone in against Thomas Massie, whom they've sparred with in the past over Iron Dome funding, but Massie cruised to victory last night with 75% of the vote.

What we're really seeing -- and this isn't a shocking revelation -- is that AIPAC has no meaningful "right-wing" boundary to what it considers acceptably pro-Israel. Absent David Duke style neo-Nazi anti-Zionism -- which actually is starting to nibble into the conservative mainstream but hasn't yet manifested on any national stage to my knowledge -- it is fine with literally any GOP position on Israel, no matter how conservative. One-stateism, pro-apartheid, pro-settlement -- nothing is off-limits to AIPAC. It may pay lip service to supporting a "two-state solution", but when it comes to things that actually get them off the couch and spending money, all the action occurs on the Democratic side of the aisle.

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