Democratic PAC seeks to unseat Rashida Tlaib

Democratic PAC seeks to unseat Rashida Tlaib
A Democratic PAC, funded largely by a hedge fund manager who also donates to AIPAC and Republican candidates, is working to unseat Representative Rashida Tlaib.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
21 June, 2022
Rashida Tlaib is facing a tough primary challenge from a well-funded PAC-backed candidate. [Getty]

A new Democratic PAC, largely funded by a hedge fund manager who also donates to Republicans and AIPAC, is focusing on unseating US Representative Rashida Tlaib.

The Urban Empowerment Action PAC, established in October, is spending around $US1 million to defeat Tlaib, the only Palestinian Muslim woman in Congress, in what it has determined is its premier race, according to a statement the PAC provided to Politico.

UEA states on its website that its goal is "empowering urban communities to narrow the wealth gap between Black and white Americans." Its other important purpose, however, as indicated by initial reporting, appears to be to unseat pro-Palestinian progressives.

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With this year's new redrawn congressional district maps, following the 2020 Census, Michigan's District 12, Tlaib's district will now have a much higher population of African Americans, allowing for the PAC to argue that it is supporting a candidate that better represents their constituents.

Kareem Youssef, a Palestinian organiser based in Los Angeles, is sceptical of the PAC's claims of wanting to empower Black communities, given its major funding from Daniel Loeb, a donor who also donates to AIPAC and Republican campaigns. He also points out that Tlaib has been an advocate for her diverse working-class constituents, securing important federal funding for much-needed projects. The only reason he can see is anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism.

"Rashida is very much invested in improving the lives of working-class Americans, not as much in international relations. She's still considered a threat," Youssef told The New Arab.

"If this PAC is going to move forward in challenging her, what we can expect is a more subtle approach," he said, further noting its messaging to left-wing voters by invoking social justice and equality.

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UEA is backing Tlaib's opponent Janice Winfrey, a Black woman, for Michigan's 2 August Democratic primary. Aside from their personal backgrounds, the main discernible difference between the two candidates appears to be their stances on Israel. The other difference, of course, is that Tlaib does not accept PAC donations.

Will this tactic work? So far, it has largely been met with scepticism. The PAC's own website has only one page of information. Its Facebook page has only seven "likes" and one comment calling the group "fake clowns" and "fake democrats".

Still, with more than a month until election day, things can change quickly. Recent Democratic primaries in Ohio, with a progressive lead-turned loss, and Pennsylvania, with a major progressive lead-turned near-loss, have shown that major anti-progressive advertising in the final weeks can make a big difference.