The pro-Hamas protests spreading across America after the war in Gaza have resulted in a backlash against a group of Democratic Party members in the U.S. House known as the “Squad.” Now, a wave of challengers running on a pro-Israel platform are threatening the left-leaning lawmakers in upcoming primary elections.
The majority of members of Congress have shown support for Israel and its right to defend itself, but not everyone. Democratic Representative Cori Bush of Missouri has been a vocal critic of Israel's response to the Hamas attack last month. She claims Israel's actions constitute a "war crime" and "ethnic cleansing campaign." Bush was one of the few House members who opposed a resolution supporting Israel.
Her stance has angered some in her district, and now a leading Democratic Senate candidate in Missouri, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, has dropped out of that race and announced a primary bid against Bush. Moderates in her district believe that Bell could be a strong challenger.
Bush is not the only one facing a potential primary challenge. The actions of other Squad members, including Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, have also drawn criticism. Summer Lee in Pennsylvania and Jamaal Bowman in New York are also being encouraged to run against anti-Israel members.
Prior to the October 7th Hamas attack, Summer Lee had already drawn a primary challenge from Bhavini Patel. But now, Patel’s candidacy is being taken more seriously and attracting funding from pro-Israel Democrats. In New York, Representative Jamaal Bowman has learned of a potential challenger in Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who may jump into the primary race.
Last year, Ilhan Omar narrowly won her primary against challenger Don Samuels, who ran on a platform that included opposition to defunding the police. This time around, Samuels could potentially present an even stronger challenge as a supporter of Israel.
In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib’s previous victory in the Democratic primary may not be so certain this time around. Pro-Israel groups are calling for stronger funding for the congresswoman’s challengers. While no opposition candidate has emerged as the frontrunner, the potential for Tlaib to face a strong challenge is growing.
The “Squad” has been a polarizing group within the Democratic Party, pushing it further to the left and often at odds with the party’s more moderate members. But after their support for Hamas, some are hoping that the Squad may face a reckoning and be driven out of office. A growing wave of pro-Israel support has given moderate Democrats an opportunity to challenge these leaders and potentially change the dynamic within the party. It remains to be seen how many of these primary challenges will be successful, but the impact of the Squad’s actions on the upcoming elections is already being felt.