By their friends you will know them

On Tuesday, August 3, Democratic voters will pick their candidate to fill the Ohio congressional seat that fell vacant when Marcia Fudge became secretary of housing and urban development. I wrote about this race before, how it reveals the deep neoliberal commitment of the Democratic party establishment, and the need to elect outspoken progressives like Nina Turner, who was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders. Matthew Cunningham-Cook writes that the right wing elements within the Democratic party establishment, such as Hillary Clinton and James Clyburn, are joining forces with wealthy Republican donors and the members of the Israel lobby to support her opponent Shontel Brown.

 Clinton, a high-profile backer of Brown, notoriously lambasted Sanders as “not a Democrat,” and said that she was proud that her greatest enemies were “Republicans.” But in this case, finance reports show GOP donors flocking to Clinton’s chosen candidate in the heated congressional race.

Undergirding these tensions are donors with long histories of support for Republican candidates who are now funding Brown’s campaign, either directly or via the political action committee Democratic Majority for Israel, a major backer of her campaign. Most notable among them is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a close ally of Donald Trump who donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration and has supported a slew of Republican candidates. A staunch supporter of Israel, Kraft in 2019 also launched and donated $20 million to a foundation to combat anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, earning him a gala reception in Jerusalem to receive the Israeli Genesis Prize. Kraft has individually donated the election maximum $5,800 to Brown’s campaign, and with his family contributed more than $20,000.

The former chair of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, Roger Synenberg, donated $1,000 to Brown’s campaign. Synenberg attracted controversy in 2018 for mailing an anonymous letter to a former county auditor, calling him a “snitch” for his role in an unfolding corruption investigation in the county.

Democratic Majority for Israel, a hybrid PAC/super PAC that has spent $1.2 million on ads supporting Brown and opposing Turner in the election, also has a slew of donors who have made ample donations to Republican candidates and causes. Leonard Feinstein, who donated $25,000 to DMFI on June 14, has made large contributions to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, and to committees supporting Republican Rick Berg’s 2012 campaign for Senate in North Dakota.

State Rep. Juanita Brent, a Turner backer who represents Cuyahoga County in the Ohio House, and was referred to The Intercept by the Turner campaign, panned the role of the GOP in the Democratic primary campaign. “As a Democrat who has helped Democrats all over the state, we cannot condone Democrats that are accepting money associated with Trump,” Brent told The Intercept. “How can we have someone who is the party chair and says that she’s a Democrat’s Democrat but is accepting Republican money?”

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have both endorsed and supported Turner.

It should not be a surprise that Clinton, a dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal, supports Brown. She has long been a steadfast opponent of progressive policies and candidates who support progressive policies. It is a useful rule of thumb that in any Democratic primary race, the candidate progressives should support is the one opposed by Clinton.The fact that all these Republican forces have joined with Clinton in this race to support Brown tells us a lot about both Brown and Clinton.


  1. Holms says

    What on earth is a “hybrid PAC/superPAC”? I was under the impression that a superPAC, in order to qualify as such, needed to have zero formal ties with the candidate it supports, where a standard PAC was under no such restriction. It has both direct association and simultaneously no direct association with the supported candidate? Schrodinger’s support, able to resolve either way depending on the observer?

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