Citing his “thoughtful and passionate advocacy for Israel,” JStreetPAC added Rep. Chris Van Hollen to its candidate roster last week with the designation of “On the Street.”
JStreetPAC, the political fundraising arm of the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace organization J Street, has fully endorsed 69 candidates for the House and three for the Senate, according to a release. “On the Street” status is not an endorsement, but allows J Street’s membership to support candidates during primary season by making donations through JStreetPAC, though the PAC does not actively raise money for them at this time.
Van Hollen is the fourth candidate to be placed “On the Street.” Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Van Hollen’s rival for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) seat, was named an “On the Street” candidate in May.
Edwards has been supported by JStreetPAC since its inception in 2008, the same year Edwards became the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in the House of Representatives.
It’s unclear if the two sharing the same status will hurt Edwards’ chances. Throughout the campaign, she has tried to position herself as the more progressive candidate. She repeatedly called on Van Hollen to endorse the Iran nuclear deal, which he did in late July.
“Representative Van Hollen’s recent statement in support of the nuclear agreement with Iran is illustrative of the studied and serious consideration he brings to matters integral to the shared U.S. and Israeli interests in peace and security in the Middle East,” Dan Kalik, J Street’s vice president of political affairs said in a statement. “We have enjoyed working with the congressman over the years to advance diplomatic over military solutions to conflicts in the region.”
As of press, neither Mikulski nor Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have declared how they will vote on the Iran nuclear deal when a resolution comes before the Senate this September.
It also remains to be seen if the approval of J Street combined with Van Hollen’s support of the deal will cost him with voters who oppose the nuclear agreement. If it does worry the congressman, his campaign is not letting on.
“Chris is glad to add this to the growing list of organizations, elected leaders and issue advocates supporting his U.S. Senate candidacy,” said Erik Dorsey, spokesperson for Van Hollen’s campaign, in a statement. “There’s no question that Chris’ well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful and serious legislator — someone who weighs each issue on the merits and exercises sound judgement — is a source of strength for this campaign.”
Van Hollen enjoys a good reputation among Maryland Jews, particularly in Montgomery County where Jewish local officials have endorsed his Senate run, including Sidney Katz (D-District 3) and George Leventhal (D-At Large) of the Montgomery County Council.
Dorey added that Van Hollen is grateful for the support from the Jewish community in the state, which he called a “reflection of his unwavering commitment to both the security of Israel and the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.”