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Obama Endorses More Jewish Candidates As Elections Heat Up

Former president Barack Obama released a list of more than 200 endorsed candidates on Monday, including several Jewish candidates whose races could decide which party controls the House of Representatives.

“Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before,” Obama wrote on Facebook. “They’re Americans who aren’t just running against something, but for something. They’re running to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore the dignity, honor, and compassion that should be the essence of public service.”

Among his endorsements were five Jewish congressional candidates hoping to unseat Republican incumbents. Two of them are former Obama administration aides: former State Department advisor Lauren Baer in Palm Beach County, Florida and former Pentagon official Elissa Slotkin in Lansing, Michigan.

Slotkin has been performing so well in her race that the Republican-affiliated Congressional Leadership Fund has cancelled more than $2 million worth of TV advertising buys in her district.

Other Jewish endorsees include Army veteran Max Rose in Staten Island, former Navy commander Elaine Luria in Virginia Beach and businessman and philanthropist Dean Phillips in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

Obama’s first round of endorsements in August included more than 80 Democrats, including Senate candidate Jacky Rosen in Nevada and House candidates Mike Levin in Orange County, California and Susan Wild in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Jewish congressional candidates have helped drive the Democrats to huge fundraising advantages, and many are seen by the party as rising stars who can help enact liberal policies next year and for many years to come.

EXPLORE ALL THE RACES WITH JEWISH CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES IN OUR INTERACTIVE MAP

Among Obama’s other endorsements on Monday were two candidates whose statements about Israel have led to some consternation within the Jewish community.

One was New York City candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was criticized by some Jewish organizations for calling the deaths of 60 Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli army on the Gaza border in May a “massacre”. Ocasio-Cortez promised in an interview after her surprise primary win that she did not supportwould “learn and evolve on this issue.”

Obama also endorsed Scott Wallace, running in the Philadelphia suburbs, was criticized by the local Jewish community after it was revealed that his family foundation gave more than $300,000 to groups that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. A local Jewish Democratic group said that they wouldn’t endorse Wallace in June, but changed its mind a month later after he said he didn’t support BDS and that he didn’t personally control those donations.

While most of Obama’s endorsees are running in tight races, many others, like Ocasio-Cortez, are expected to cruise to victory in November.

One history-making candidate who has unexpectedly not received an Obama endorsement yet is Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, who has called Israel an “apartheid regime” and will likely be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

And while Obama endorsed nine New York State Senate candidates, Julia Salazar — the pro-BDS organizer whose campaign was plagued by accusations that she fabricated her biography — was not among them.

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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