Donna Edwards gets help from Nancy Pelosi to fight back against AIPAC-affiliated attack ad

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A new super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is spending money to attack former Democratic Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards as she asks voters to return her to Congress in Maryland’s 4th District.

Edwards pushed back forcefully Friday — including with a virtual appearance by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — against a $600,000 ad buy from the United Democracy Project. The super PAC has inserted itself into races across the country, spending millions against candidates opposed by AIPAC, long one of the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying weapons in Washington. The group’s attacks, however, have often focused on issues unrelated to Israeli politics.

The group announcement — who does not broadcast an affiliation with AIPAC — attacked Edwards for criticizing his constituent services during his tenure from 2008 to 2017; she did not seek reelection so she could run for the Democratic Senate nomination, a race in which her record on constituent services was also an issue. (The United Democracy Project ad quotes extensively from editorials by the Washington Post editorial board, which is separate from the newsroom — though the ad also includes a 2016 Post news article.)

At a Friday press conference, Edwards said the ad “lies about my record” and that his Democratic opponent, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, “knows he loses and now he’s desperate”. Ivey has been approved by AIPAC.

“My opponent has his super PAC in black silver. I have grassroots support. And you know what? I like those chances,” Edwards said. “I have to tell you one thing about black women that many of you already know: when you pick us up, we don’t run. We double down and we do the work.

At the end of the press conference, Edwards’ campaign manager placed a laptop on the lectern and pulled out a video message from Pelosi. “When Donna Edwards first represented Maryland’s fourth congressional district, and that was for almost a decade, she was one of the most effective members of Congress,” Pelosi said on the video. “Donna fought for Prince George’s County – for jobs and investments in her community, to help voters in need and to get results.”

The United Democracy Project’s foray into the 4th District race indicates that a proxy war between pro-Israel groups — AIPAC backing Ivey and liberal J Street backing Edwards — could dent the race in its latest straight ahead of the July 19 primary. A UDP spokesman, Patrick Dorton, said this was the sixth race the UDP had been involved in this year, including helping Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) and Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) by spending against their opponents. Dorton said the UDP plans to be active in the Maryland race until primary election day.

The Post previously reported in April that AIPAC funneled nearly $160,000 in donations from its supporters to Ivey’s campaign before formally approving it. Now on AIPAC’s list of “star contenders,” Ivey leads the way and is one of two “key races” prioritized by the organization.

“We strongly support Glenn Ivey because he deeply appreciates the importance of the US-Israel relationship,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement. “His stance stands in stark contrast to that of one of his chief opponents, whose record in Congress was hostile to America’s alliance with Israel.”

AIPAC’s fallout with Edwards dates back to his first term in 2009, when Edwards voted “present” on a resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza.” Dorton also cited Edwards’ “present” votes on a 2011 resolution expressing support for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and 2012 legislation aimed at enhancing security cooperation between the United States and Israel, between others.

But Edwards retained strong support from J Street, which on Friday condemned UDP advertising and called on Ivey to do the same. He praised Edwards for supporting “peace, diplomacy and human rights for Israelis and Palestinians.”

“It’s appalling. These baseless attacks on a veteran Democrat like Donna Edwards are being funded by a Republican-aligned hawkish group that actively raises money for those who threaten our democracy,” J Street vice president of public affairs Kevin Rachlin said in a statement. a statement. referring to the fact that AIPAC also supports Republicans who opposed the 2020 election results. “As Speaker Pelosi has made clear, these attacks on Donna are baseless. Glenn Ivey must show his commitment to American democracy by calling on the United Democracy Project to remove its misleading ads from this race.

A spokesman for Ivey, Ramón Korionoff, said Ivey will “continue to focus on educating voters every day on the issues that matter most to them, fighting crime, reducing inflation and the education of our children”.

“As the ad states, [Edwards] was the least effective Democrat in Congress while in office and she failed to meet the needs of her constituents when they needed her most,” Korionoff said. “Glenn has a reputation for getting things done and always showing up and getting the job done.”

When faced with criticism over her past work in constituent services elsewhere on the campaign trail, Edwards struck a softer tone. A voter at a campaign forum at Riderwood Senior Living in Beltsville, Md. last month said she heard about issues with Edwards Voter Services while in office. The voter asked the crowd, “How would it be different this time you’re in power?”

Edwards then did not contest the criticism.

“I think that’s a fair question and criticism,” Edwards replied. “After stepping back for the past six years, I’ve had a chance to really think about it. I think we’ve done great things in our office, from the college fairs we’ve hosted and homes we’ve saved from foreclosure, to opening up opportunities for small businesses. … But I hear the criticism. And all I can say is the commitment that every legislator makes, which is to say that I will do better. I heard it and I will do better.

Edwards was joined by several allies at his Friday press conference who spoke of their positive experiences with Edwards and his work helping voters, including one who said Edwards helped save his home from foreclosure .

Of the. Karen Toles (D) also stressed the importance of electing a liberal woman to Maryland’s federal delegation, which has not had a female member since Edwards and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) left office in 2017.

“The stuff you hear is BS, OK? It’s just BS,” Toles said, referring to the attack on Edwards. “Let me say that when we re-elect the congresswoman, she will be the only woman in the entire state delegation… Only women have these problems when it comes to trying to get elected. You don’t hear them talking about men saying they have problems with their constituents. They only talk about women. Women who are mothers. Women who are educators. Women who work multiple jobs but have the courage to run for office. We will not be discouraged. We will send it back.

The primary for the 4th congressional district represents something of a rematch between Ivey and Edwards. Ivey launched a short-lived primary against Edwards in 2012 but dropped out. He sought to fill the seat vacated by Edwards in a 2016 Democratic primary, but lost to Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), who is not seeking reelection to run for office. Attorney General of Maryland.

Former Prince George delegate Angela Angel is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

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