Sarah Elfreth, supported by AIPAC, emerges victorious in Maryland Democratic primary

5 days ago
Sarah Elfreth, supported by AIPAC, emerges victorious in Maryland Democratic primary

A candidate who received significant funding from an AIPAC political action committee emerged victorious in the Democratic primary for US Congress in Maryland.

The race captured national interest due to its high-profile candidates, notably Harry Dunn, a former Capitol police officer who bravely served during the 6 January 2021 attack. Adding to the intrigue was the significant financial backing of over US$4 million from the United Democracy Project, an AIPAC super PAC, supporting his opponent, Sarah Elfreth.

The significant amount of funding from a single PAC is quite high, especially considering that Israel has not been a prominent topic in this campaign. Despite this, AIPAC’s super PAC successfully garnered support for their favored 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.