What will it take for Democratic leadership to cry foul?

By Alexander Sammon, The American Prospect

Primary season is ending with a bang this year in the Democratic Party, thanks to AIPAC, the single most consequential political action committee involved. The hawkish political group, through its super PAC United Democracy Project, is dumping trainloads of money to influence the outcome of two particularly high-profile races: boosting Haley Stevens over incumbent Andy Levin in Michigan’s incumbent-on-incumbent 11th Congressional District, and Glenn Ivey over Donna Edwards in Maryland’s open Fourth District.

aipac website

On the surface, those campaigns break down along familiar ideological lines; Stevens and Ivey are the more conservative candidates, Levin and Edwards are progressives. But the Maryland race is especially notable for both the Democratic forces AIPAC is now opposing and for the stunning quantity of cash it has dedicated to the cause: Already, UDP has spent some $6 million boosting Ivey and opposing Edwards, by far the most money the super PAC has poured into any individual race in the cycle. And it’s not merely to knock off a Squad-type progressive: Edwards, who has already served a decade representing the same Fourth District as a Democrat, is a close ally of Democratic leadership and endorsee of everyone from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Hillary Clinton.

That race, which will be decided on Tuesday, marks the continued advance of AIPAC into the Democratic electoral process, an unprecedented development that has, in just a few months, remade the reality of Democratic politics. In a number of races earlier this year, United Democracy Project put up millions of dollars to back more-conservative candidates, which proved remarkably successful. The $2 million-plus that UDP poured into North Carolina’s First District resulted in an easy victory for anti-choice candidate Don Davis; $2.1 million pushed conservative Valerie Foushee over the finish line in NC-04; $2 million almost certainly made the difference in Texas’s 28th, where conservative Henry Cuellar squeaked past Jessica Cisneros by fewer than 300 votes; $2.7 million on behalf of Steve Irwin nearly closed a 25-point polling gap in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, as he lost by the narrowest of margins to progressive Summer Lee. UDP-produced ads have been repeatedly criticized in multiple races for relying on misleading messaging, but the group has otherwise been met with little resistance or condemnation from leading Democrats.

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