A Democratic House candidate who backs the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was soundly defeated in a special primary election on Tuesday, in a blow to opponents of the Jewish state.
Omari Hardy, a BDS supporter who also objects to U.S. funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, on Tuesday garnered just 5.9 percent of the vote in Florida's 20th Congressional District. The primary is likely to move to a recount between the two leading Democrats, Dale Holness and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who each received around 24 percent of the vote in the race to fill the seat vacated by the late Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Hardy's defeat is a loss for anti-Israel progressives who have been gaining influence within the Democratic Party and who in September successfully pushed Democratic House leaders to remove Iron Dome funding from a spending bill.
Hardy came out in support of BDS during his campaign, calling it "the only option Palestinians have to draw attention to their plight and to change the behavior of Israel's military and political leaders." He also said he would have opposed a bill to provide additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome.
His campaign received support from progressive organizations, anti-Israel activists, and even some mainstream Democrats. Former Democratic Florida representative Donna Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services secretary in the Clinton administration, in May donated $2,800 to Hardy's campaign through her Donna Democrats PAC, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also endorsed by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, although the paper later walked back some of its praise and criticized his positions on Israel.
Hardy was also endorsed by the Democratic Progressives Caucus of Florida. Emgage Action, a group that advocates for BDS, listed him as one of three candidates in the primary race that "we feel will be amazing champions for the Muslim Community of South Florida."
But Hardy's position on Israel also drew criticism from Democratic and Jewish groups during the primary, whose winner is expected to coast through the general election in the solidly blue district.
The Florida Democratic Party Jewish Caucus said it "opposes the election of Omari Hardy because of his positions on these fundamental issues."
A group of Jewish Democratic leaders in the state also issued a statement in opposition to Hardy that says he "does not follow in the footsteps of the late Alcee Hastings when he supports BDS and opposes Iron Dome."