Cori Bush faces difficult primary amid Democratic rift over Israel

One of the most prominent progressives in the force, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, faces a difficult re-election bid over her stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Polls this week showed Mr. Bush trailing far behind Prosecutor Wesley Bell in the primary race for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, and recent earnings reports suggest Mr. Bush is at risk of being overtaken by him. It has been shown that there is. President Bush even painted himself as an underdog in the race with voters.

Her formidable major challenge comes as her stance on Israel has upset many establishment Democrats, leading to a growing national effort to unseat her in the race in early August. .

Mark Melman, CEO of the Israel Democratic Majority Party, said President Bush is “even more vulnerable today” due to her resistance to the party’s pro-Israel approach to the conflict since Oct. 7. he said. He said he counts President Bush as one of several unsafe progressives. Seeking another term in Congress.

“One of the reasons people don’t follow them is because they think their ideas aren’t necessarily good ideas, and they think their politics aren’t smart,” Melman said.

A recent poll by the Republican-leaning Remington Research Group showed Mr. Bush holding a double-digit lead over Mr. Bell in the high-profile race. Earlier this month, the company determined Bell had a 22-point lead among 401 primary voters.

For Bell, the St. Louis prosecuting attorney, the apparent surge in support is consistent with what his campaign believes is enthusiasm for more viable alternatives for representing blue districts in Congress.

“This poll confirms what we’ve known for a while,” Bell told The Hill on Thursday. “We have momentum in this election because voters in the First District want a representative who builds bridges.”

Although he did not mention Bush by name, Bell’s comments reflect the frustrations that have dogged the congressman’s brief tenure in the House.

Moderate Democrats have often dismissed her as out of step with the party’s position under President Biden, who campaigned as a consensus candidate and won. Republicans, on the other hand, have gone further, painting her as one of the most extreme and divisive members of the Democratic caucus, calling her work on police reform and criminal justice as key points of contrast, and currently focusing on the war in Gaza. I’m aiming.

“Voters are looking for someone who will provide steady, grounded leadership during this extremely difficult time,” Bell said.

Former state Rep. Chappelle Nadal is also running in the primary.

President Bush’s challenge intensified after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. In the face of untold global calamity, Biden and many Democrats rallied to support Israel against Palestinian terrorist organizations.

While also condemning Hamas, a minority of progressives struck a sharply different tone from Biden and moderates in Congress over the Israeli government’s actions toward Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Bush gained notoriety in Missouri as a civil rights activist during the 2014 Black Lives Matter movement, and has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Palestinian rights and opposition to some acts of retaliation by the Israeli military. I’m alone.

She strongly advocates for a ceasefire, even though it is not the beginning for many Democrats mourning the deaths of 1,200 Israelis, and has lobbied to make certain U.S. aid to Israel conditional. ing. She has used the phrase “cease fire now” throughout her public office while she is running for re-election.

Bush has faced an onslaught of detractors, but her supporters are also pushing back against what they see as efforts by some pro-Israel politicians to oust her.

Tim Black, a left-wing podcast host and commentator, sees her call for a ceasefire as the reason Bell’s campaign is gaining visible momentum.

“These statements angered Israel’s supporters, and now that money is flowing to Israel’s challengers,” he said.

Some progressives, like Mr. Black, want to see what happened with Mr. Bush’s campaign and former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner’s candidacy against Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) in the Cleveland House. I see similarities with.

“Millions of dollars had been invested in the Nina Turner vs. Shontel Brown special election at the end of the race,” Black said.

Like Bush, Turner has been outspoken about the Democratic Party’s response to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

“Wesley Bell doesn’t really have a platform,” he says. “The only policy I’m sure he supports is for Israel to continue bombing Gaza.”

The Democratic Party for Justice, which helped field Mr. Bush, has noted that organizers see Mr. Bell’s proximity to groups that are well-funded by Republicans. Communications director Osama Andrabi said Bell is one of several primary challengers who are “simply a vehicle for Republican mega-donors to influence the Democratic primary.”

Andrabi was referring to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). The committee, which has supported Republican and Democratic candidates through its super PAC United Democracy Project, has been a target of progressives who have slammed donations from some wealthy Republican donors.

A spokesperson for AIPAC told The Hill that it supports Bell’s primary campaign.

“We proudly support Wesley Bell, who is a strong defender of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Whitman said, “in sharp contrast to our opponents, who represent an extremist anti-Israel faction.” ” he said.

Mr. Bush’s positions on Israel have been an issue in his caucuses on Capitol Hill and into the campaign, where Mr. Bell and his allies are trying to distance themselves from their rivals.

Mr. Bush voted alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Opposes recent House bill It specifically prevents members of Hamas and other affiliated terrorist organizations from entering the United States, arguing that these organizations are already banned and therefore the bill is irrelevant.

“It’s just a few of them voting alone on the bill,” Mr. Mellman said of Mr. Bush and several members of his squad, who often band together as a progressive coalition.

For example, Mr. Bush and other left-wing politicians also voted against Mr. Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which the president considers one of his first term’s biggest successes.

“They don’t have a lot of supporters on Capitol Hill,” Melman argued.

President Bush’s positions on issues such as reparations, “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal are likely to lead to him ousting 10-term Rep. William Lacey Clay (D) in an unexpected upset in 2021. Although this is the first position in which he contributed to the United States, it still puts President Bush in a similar position. his colleagues and constituents;

In a show of solidarity with one of his biggest allies in Congress, President Bush invited Tlaib to launch his re-election campaign in the North Woods. Tlaib is the only Palestinian American in the House of Representatives.

While Mr. Bush has certainly alienated some pro-Israel supporters, including some within his own caucus, he has a sizable base among local elected leaders in St. Louis, including Mayor Tishaura Jones. is building. She is also backed by the Service Employees International Union, a powerful labor union.

Hassan Martini, head of the progressive group No Dem Left Behind, is an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Bush’s campaign, noting that Mr. Bush won the last election by a landslide. He argued that public support on the ground may not be borne out in the company’s latest Republican-backed poll.

“In 2022, Mr. Bush defeated his opponent by nearly 50 points,” Martini said, adding that the latest poll showing Mr. Bush with a double-digit lead showed that “Missouri voters I don’t think it represents his true feelings.”

Democrats need to protect the spirit of Mr. Bush and such progressive momentum, he argued.

“Republicans have everything to gain by changing Overton’s frame in Democratic politics,” Martini said. “The further we move to the right, the less their extremist insanity fades. This is why Republican pollsters are working to root out inspiring progressive politicians like Cori Bush.” We should all invest in preserving and continuing her legacy.”

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