Anti-Israel Democrats Face Campaign Finance Woes and Primary Challenges

Congresswomen Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar, And Pressley Hold News Conference After President Trump Attacks Them On Twitter
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October 17, 2023

The Squad, which boasts some of the most anti-Israel members of Congress, is facing a cash crunch heading into the 2024 election cycle, according to a Washington Free Beacon review.

Reps. Cori Bush (D., Mo.) and Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) are both spending money faster than they can raise it, according to the representatives’ most recent financial disclosure forms. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) has seen a precipitous drop in her fundraising each year since 2019 and only brought in $151,000 for the quarter ending Sept. 30. And Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) raised less than half of what she brought in during the same timeframe in 2019.

The Squad’s lackluster fundraising could pose a problem as its members fight to keep their seats in what could be a contentious election cycle. The progressive representatives have maintained their staunch criticism of Israel and support for terrorist-linked groups in the wake of Hamas’s attacks on the Jewish state, which have left more than 1,400 Israelis and at least 30 Americans dead. The Squad’s anti-Israel rhetoric has drawn criticism from the Biden White House and moderate Democrats, some of whom may bring primary challenges to the Squad members in 2024.

Omar, along with Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) and Summer Lee (D., Pa.), could face primary challenges because of their anti-Israel positions, Jewish Insider reported Monday. Omar’s former primary challenger Don Samuels is planning to take on the far-left representative again next cycle and will center his campaign on Omar’s history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, according to Jewish Insider. Omar defeated Samuels by just 2 points in the last cycle.

Although Omar is better positioned financially than she was last year with nearly $650,000 cash on hand, her fundraising has never recovered from her initial congressional run. She raised just over $437,000 during the most recent quarter, less than half of what she brought in during the same timeframe in 2019.

Omar’s financial situation is hardly the most dire among Squad members. Bush’s campaign has accumulated nearly $130,000 in debt since the congresswoman won reelection in November and has just $20,000 in cash on hand. Pressley had just $186,000 in the bank as of her most recent filing, after spending $162,000 and raising $123,000 in the quarter ending in September.

Bush’s campaign manager, Adrastos Andre Da Silva, announced on Aug. 9 that he had "officially transitioned out" of his position on Bush’s campaign and said on Twitter he was looking for new employment. It’s not clear if Bush’s financial woes, which include falling behind on paying office rent, legal bills, and fundraising consultants, forced Da Silva’s resignation.

Da Silva did not return a request for comment.

Bush’s financial struggles didn’t stop her from enriching her family with campaign funds last quarter, however. She paid her husband, Cortney Merritts, $12,500 in campaign funds for "wage expenses," presumably related to his services as a personal body guard for Bush. The Missouri Democrat currently faces a Federal Election Commission complaint that she used her campaign funds for personal use by paying Merritts with donated funds.

Polls show most Americans agree with Israel’s response to the worst attack on the Jewish state since its founding. A survey from the conservative Senate Opportunity Fund found nearly 70 percent of respondents back Israel in its conflict with Hamas, including 62 percent of self-described liberals.

Still, the Squad has not budged. Tlaib and Bush on Monday introduced a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza in advance of a planned Israeli invasion. Squad members have maintained their affiliations with the Democratic Socialists of America, which sponsored an anti-Israel protest in New York City shortly after Hamas carried out its terrorist attacks. That protest featured anti-Semitic chants as well as one participant waving a picture of the Nazi flag.