A pro-Israel super PAC is wading into the fierce fight for Katie Porter seat

The race for California’s 47th district has become a magnet for outside money.

A pro-Israel super PAC is making a six-figure splash in a toss-up Orange County House race, prompting fierce pushback from its target, Democratic state Sen. Dave Min.

United Democracy Project, the independent expenditure arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, dropped nearly $50,000 in mail pieces opposing Min, according to campaign finance filings. And it is poised to leave a bigger mark starting Tuesday, booking roughly $500,000 in broadcast and cable airtime, according to AdImpact, a campaign ad tracking firm.

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Min is one of two Democrats competing to succeed Rep. Katie Porter in her purple seat — a district that Republicans see as a prime pick-up opportunity in the battle for control of the House. The contest has grown increasingly bitter in the lead-up to California’s March 5 primary, with Min and his rival, political activist Joanna Weiss, trading negative attack ads.

The mail piece from United Democracy Project echoes Weiss’ campaign in slamming Min for his drunk driving arrest last spring. The group’s television ad has not been released.

This is the group’s first spending foray into a 2024 race. It started the year with more than $40 million cash on hand.

Weiss has benefited from outside help, including a $1 million advertising campaign by EMILYs List, a stalwart Democratic group that boosts women candidates who support abortion rights.

While EMILYs List’s support for Weiss had been telegraphed for months, the intervention by the pro-Israel group was more unexpected.

The Israel-Hamas war, which has become a flashpoint dividing some Democrats, has not been a major point of contention in the contest between Min and Weiss. Neither has called for a cease-fire, which pro-Israel groups strongly oppose. Min and Weiss have made little mention of the issue on social media, save for condemning Hamas in the immediate aftermath of its Oct.7 attack in Israel.

Min’s campaign attributed AIPAC’s opposition to private conversations he had with the group’s members and leadership.

“Despite State Senator Min’s support of Israel, and a broad coalition of endorsements from the Jewish community, a number of Republican donors at AIPAC are upset that he has called for Bibi Netanyahu to be held accountable for the security failures on October 7th and Netanyahu’s failure of leadership during this crisis. Senator Min does not believe in the annexation of West Bank settlements, he had hoped that a constructive dialogue could be had. It appears they disagreed,” said Dan Driscoll, Min’s campaign manager, in a statement.

United Democracy Project did not respond to an email seeking comment about its involvement in the race.

Last week, Weiss scored the backing of Pro-Israel America PAC. The group’s executive director Samantha Garelick said in a statement that Weiss “is committed to defending America’s strategic alliance with Israel and has proven her resolve to fight and address antisemitism in all its forms.”

Min has endorsements from much of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, including its co-chairs: state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel.