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Jamaal Bowman
Jamaal Bowman’s challenger, Westchester County executive George Latimer, has almost twice as much as Bowman currently has in the bank. John Minchillo/AP

The House’s Most Progressive Members Post Big Fundraising Numbers

Despite their criticism of Israel, most members of the “squad” are heading into their primaries well-funded. Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush have more difficult challenges ahead.

Progressive members of the House “squad” have been able to post formidable fundraising numbers despite their criticism of Israel and well-funded primary challengers.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Summer Lee, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman and Ayanna Pressley — the most progressive members in the House — had impressive first quarters, continuing a trend from last year. Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib led the pack with $6.7 million and $6.5 million, respectively, according to campaign finance records. Omar raised $4.9 million, Bowman raised $2.7 million, Lee raised $2.3 million and Bush raised $1.6 million. Pressley, who announced her reelection campaign earlier this month, was the only outlier, taking in $855,000.

Lee’s primary on Tuesday will be the first real test of whether progressives’ stance on Gaza could ultimately be a liability.

Lee will face off with Bhavini Patel, who is backed by pro-Israel groups that have attacked Lee for being too “extreme” on the conflict in Gaza, as NOTUS previously reported. Lee’s incumbency, however, has proved to be helpful, as has her focus on more local issues impacting constituents. She has the support of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and Sen. John Fetterman, even though the two couldn’t be further apart ideologically when it comes to Israel and Gaza.

Tlaib has not drawn a primary challenger so far and handily won in 2022. Her $6.5 million haul comes even after Republicans censured her late last year for her criticism of Israel. And Omar has outraised her challenger by over a million dollars.

Bowman and Bush, however, are in a more tenuous position, and their campaign weak spots extend beyond the Israel-Palestine conflict. They are both facing challenges from candidates who have the backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but Bowman’s challenger has the support of establishment Democrats from the state, and Bush is facing a Justice Department probe that could be a liability for her.

Bowman’s challenger, Westchester County executive George Latimer, has almost twice as much as Bowman currently has in the bank, according to campaign finance records. Latimer also has the backing of AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobbying group was his largest donor, per The Intercept) and has swept the endorsements of Democratic committees in Bowman’s district. Bowman, on the other hand, lost the endorsement of J Street, a left-wing lobbying group. Top members of House Democratic leadership, however, all endorsed him in late March.

Bush is fending off a challenge from Wesley Bell, a prosecuting attorney in her district. Bell, who’s also backed by AIPAC, has twice as much as Bush in the bank. As things stand, Bush spent close to $100,000 on legal fees related to the DOJ probe of her alleged misuse of campaign funds in the past, Axios reported. Bush hasn’t announced that she has support from Democratic leadership, but the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed her last month.

“The CBC will stand by its incumbents and make sure that we’re endorsing and supporting them. And that’s what we’ve done; we will continue to do that,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, who leads CBC PAC, told NOTUS last November when AIPAC announced efforts to oust progressive members who were not supportive of Israel.

Leaders in the progressive movement have also stepped up to defend incumbents. In March, ABC News reported that a coalition of nearly two dozen progressive groups launched “Reject-AIPAC,” a seven-figure effort to defend progressives facing the heat for their stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict. The coalition, which includes Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and the IfNotNow Movement.

The coalition’s planned spending pales in comparison to the financial might of groups like AIPAC. Coalition leaders are under no illusion that defending progressive incumbents will be anything other than difficult.

“They took out establishment Democrats and, in doing so, made establishment enemies,” Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, told NOTUS.

Tinashe Chingarande is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.