The liberal Jewish group J Street is backing Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race, but the endorsement is not exclusive.
Instead Edwards will go into the group’s “On The Street” program, which allows supporters to donate to her through J Street’s PAC. J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement that Edwards “has been willing to buck political tides to stand up for the national aspirations of both” Israelis and Palestinians.
“Together, we have traveled throughout Israel, fought for the critical issues relating to her peace and security, and advocated for the bold American leadership required to make a two-state solution a reality,” Edwards said in a statement.
In her campaign, Edwards has faced criticism from some in the Jewish community who see her as insufficiently supportive of Israel’s right to self defense. While she has voted to fund Israeli missile defense and impose sanctions on terrorist financiers, Edwards has regularly ducked resolutions and letters backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s dominant Israel lobby,
Left open is whether J Street will give the same support to Edwards’s primary opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), or any other candidate to enter the open race. The group has a good relationship with Van Hollen and rarely takes a side in competitive primaries. Generally, Ben-Ami is trying to expand the group’s presence in Congress and endorse more lawmakers, some of whom have been reluctant to associate publicly with a liberal Jewish group.
Still, the support gives Edwards a boost in fundraising that will help her compete against the better-funded Van Hollen. The group’s donors helped her fend off primary challenges based on her stance on Israel in 2010 and 2012.
Edwards is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), who is retiring next year.