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Valerie Foushee

Valerie Foushee, a Democratic primary candidate for the U.S. House in North Carolina's Fourth Congressional District, lost an endorsement from the state party's progressive caucus after she accepted donations from AIPAC. (Photo: Valerie Foushee for Congress)

Citing AIPAC Ties, NC Progressives Yank Endorsement of Dem House Candidate

State Sen. Valerie Foushee is running to represent North Carolina's Fourth Congressional District, with primary opponents including progressive Nida Allam.

Julia Conley

The progressive caucus of North Carolina's state Democratic Party is revoking its endorsement of state Sen. Valerie Foushee, citing her acceptance of thousands of dollars from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the anti-Palestinian rights group which has been influential in U.S. politics for decades

"We contacted Senator Foushee's campaign and were told the commitment between her campaign and AIPAC was strong and unyielding."

The caucus said Sunday it had unsuccessfully urged Foushee to reject $165,000 in funding from individuals associated with AIPAC due to its support for more than three dozen Republican politicians who objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, which former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to baselessly claim were fraudulent.

AIPAC's donations to Foushee's campaign represented more than half of her total quarterly fundraising, according to campaign finance disclosures cited by the progressive caucus.

The funds link Foushee to a group which supported the January 6, 2020 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said the caucus.

"AIPAC is a single-issue organization that sees nothing wrong with supporting insurrectionists in the U.S. as long as those insurrectionists continue to align their congressional votes with AIPAC goals," said the group. "We denounce AIPAC for its support of those who acted to destroy our democracy."

Foushee is running in the primary scheduled for May 17 to replace U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat who is retiring. After announcing last year that he would not seek reelection, Price criticized AIPAC's longtime hold over the Democratic Party, telling Haaretz that "it wasn't that long ago in the Democratic caucus, including the leadership of the party, when if AIPAC said 'jump,' we'd say 'How high?'"

Progressive lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have been outspoken in their support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israel's violent policies in Palestine, and Omar and Tlaib have endorsed one of Foushee's opponents, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam.

Allam supports a Green New Deal; foreign policy "centered on diplomacy, cooperation, and the protection of human rights;" and Medicare for All.

Allam challenged a claim by Foushee's campaign on Monday that the state senator's donations from AIPAC were a "nothingburger." A campaign spokesperson for Foushee told Raleigh-area NBC affiliate WRAL that Allam's team was fueling the story because internal polling recently showed Allam five points behind the state senator.

Marshall Wittman, a spokesperson for AIPAC, said in a statement that the group is maintaining its support for Foushee, adding that she "solidly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship in stark contrast to her opponent."

Allam's campaign told WRAL that she "rejects corporate PAC and lobbyist donations because she knows accountability is a big deal."

"Accepting funding from an organization that endorsed Republicans who embraced insurrectionists is not 'a nothingburger,'" Maya Handa, Allam's campaign manager, said. "This is clearly something that matters deeply to North Carolinians who want to change our politics for the better."

In addition to Tlaib and Omar, Allam has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Sunrise Movement, Peace Action, and the Working Families Party, among other progressive organizations.

The state Democratic Party's progressive caucus has not yet announced a new endorsement in the race to replace Price.

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