AIPAC-backed candidate wins Maryland Democratic primary

A candidate funded by a PAC connected with AIPAC has won the Democratic primary in Maryland. [Brooke Anderson/TNA]

A candidate largely funded by an AIPAC political action committee has won the Democratic primary for US Congress in Maryland.

The race drew national attention for its star power, with one of the top two candidates being Harry Dunn, a former Capitol police officer who was present during the 6 January 2021 attack, and with over US$4 million in funding from the United Democracy Project, an AIPAC super PAC funding his opponent, Sarah Elfreth.

This level of funding from any one PAC is unusually high, particularly given that Israel hasn’t been a major discussion point in this race. Nevertheless, AIPAC’s super PAC got the votes for their preferred candidate through advertising and mailers.

Elfreth herself has said that she feels uncomfortable with dark money, though she has taken it nonetheless to support her campaign.

It is unclear why AIPAC chose Elfreth, as most of the race’s leading candidates have expressed support for Israel, though she appears to have become more vocal in her support following her backing from AIPAC. In response to a question for a local newspaper’s voter’s guide asking how she would promote peace in Gaza, she described Israel as a vibrant democracy.

What is clear is that criticism surrounding the AIPAC-connected funding for Elfreth’s campaign has largely overshadowed much of her work as a state legislator.

“It’s interesting to me that she’s clearly an accomplished legislator, which was a big part of her message. But that, at least in the discourse I’m seeing about the race, has been drowned out by the AIPAC association,” J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told The New Arab following the results of Tuesday’s race.

Also overshadowing the race have been hostile comments on X, formerly Twitter, from MAGA accounts celebrating Dunn’s loss due to his role in defending the US Capitol on 6 January. 

Sharing a video of Dunn, a Black former police officer, discussing himself and colleagues being called racial slurs during the Capitol insurrection, an account called Freedom wrote, “Harry Dunn f-ed around and has found out. His lose [sic] is the best News of the night!”

“BREAKING: Harry Dunn, the J6 cop who testified in front of the J6 SHAM Committee just lost his race for Congress in MD-3. HAHAHAHAHAHA!” wrote Ryan Fournier, chair of Students for Trump.

Dunn’s loss is also notable due to AIPAC‘s support of election-denying candidates. Though AIPAC has described itself as nonpartisan, most of its largest donors lean conservative or are linked with the Republican Party. For the last election cycle, the Israel lobby group endorsed around 100 Republican candidates who denied the results of the presidential race.

The winner of the race in Maryland’s third congressional district, home to a diverse constituency in a deep-blue area southeast of Baltimore, is all but certain to determine the outcome of the general election. On Tuesday night, Dunn announced that he had contacted Elfreth to congratulate her and to say that he would be supporting her in the general election in November.

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