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How Gaza ceasefire turned a focus in Barbara Lee’s US Senate marketing campaign | Elections Information

How Gaza ceasefire turned a focus in Barbara Lee’s US Senate marketing campaign | Elections Information


Washington, DC – Three days after the assaults on September 11, 2001, the USA Home of Representatives convened to authorise a navy response, with laws that may function the authorized foundation for the invasion of Afghanistan and the broader “warfare on terror”.

The vote was overwhelming: 420 to 1. The only real dissenter was Consultant Barbara Lee, a California Democrat.

On Tuesday, Lee — on the age of 77 — will face probably the best electoral check of her profession when California holds a major for its open Senate seat.

The congresswoman is operating in that race on her credentials as an antiwar candidate. This time, nevertheless, her focus is on attaining a ceasefire in Gaza — a place she says distinguishes her from the remainder of the sphere.

Lee is in competitors in opposition to greater than 20 different candidates, together with distinguished Democratic representatives like Adam Schiff and Katie Porter. The stakes are excessive: Schiff, Lee and Porter have all opted to not run for reelection within the Home, with a view to deal with their Senate prospects.

Which means this yr’s Senate major might deal Lee her first electoral defeat in 26 years. However her candidacy shines a lightweight on the vary of Democratic views in direction of Israel’s warfare in Gaza — a spectrum that would translate into fractures because the celebration seeks unity on the poll field.

A beacon for progressives

Amar Shergill, the chair emeritus of the California Democratic Social gathering Progressive Caucus, is amongst these supporting Lee’s Senate bid.

He instructed Al Jazeera that Lee’s stance on Israel’s warfare in Gaza was among the many causes he publicly backed her marketing campaign. “Barbara Lee is a voice to finish struggling around the globe, whatever the political price, and she’s going to combat for it,” he mentioned.

Over the previous months, Lee has reiterated her name for a ceasefire in Gaza dozens of occasions on her social media accounts, making it a defining aspect of her marketing campaign.

People — and particularly Democrats — have more and more voiced concern in regards to the dire circumstances in Gaza, the place Israel has killed greater than 30,000 Palestinians.

A February ballot from the Related Press and the NORC Middle for Public Affairs Analysis discovered that half of People felt Israel had “gone too far” in its navy marketing campaign. That quantity, nevertheless, shot as much as 62 p.c amongst Democrats alone.

However many mainstream members of the Democratic Social gathering have lengthy resisted requires a everlasting ceasefire, as an alternative affirming assist for Israel’s navy offensive. They embrace President Joe Biden, who has solely not too long ago articulated hopes for a ceasefire to pause — although not definitively finish — hostilities.

Lee’s supporters hope that her stance on the problem will carry her to a shock victory on Tuesday. Public opinion polls present her trailing her Democratic rivals Schiff and Porter, in addition to Republican contender and former baseball participant Steve Garvey.

Overseas coverage is never a prime precedence on the poll field, however Shergill mentioned voters are more and more drawing parallels between injustices in Palestine and inequality at house.

“The youth is impressed by her ethical readability. We see immigrant communities who perceive that what’s taking place in Palestine might occur to their family in ancestral houses around the globe,” Shergill instructed Al Jazeera.

California’s ‘jungle’ major

The Senate race in California — the state with the most important inhabitants within the nation — is scheduled to reach on Tremendous Tuesday, a vital date within the US electoral calendar. Extra states maintain primaries on that date than on every other.

Including to the scrutiny of that high-profile event is the symbolism behind this explicit Senate race. Lee and the opposite Senate hopefuls goal to fill a seat lengthy held by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein, a key Democrat who died in 2023.

Feinstein held the title of longest-serving feminine senator within the historical past of the US Congress. After her loss of life, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to serve the remainder of her time period.

However Butler has declined to run within the 2024 election, leaving the Senate race with out an incumbent. An open Senate seat in California, a Democratic stronghold, is a rarity. Whoever wins will spend a six-year time period in Congress.

Most states have partisan primaries, the place candidates from totally different events compete on separate slates to assert their celebration’s nomination for the overall election.

However California holds what is named a “jungle major”: Candidates, no matter political celebration, compete collectively within the first spherical of voting and the highest two vote-getters face off within the normal elections.

So a Democrat like Lee not solely has to compete in opposition to members of her personal celebration however Republicans and independents as effectively.

Democratic Senate rivals Katie Porter, Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff pose for pictures after a US Senate Candidate Discussion board in Los Angeles in October 2023 [Richard Vogel/AP]

The candidates

Garvey, the Republican baseball star, has led a dark-horse marketing campaign that has shocked political observers. A number of polls present him in a tie with — or surpassing — Porter for second place.

However even when Garvey makes it to the overall elections, Democrats are broadly anticipated to retain the Senate seat in November.

Schiff, an ally of former Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is at present main the race. Thought-about a favorite of the celebration institution, Schiff developed a nationwide profile after he led an impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump in 2019.

Porter, in the meantime, is a left-wing lawmaker who rose to prominence along with her client advocacy and criticism of main companies.

On home points, Lee, Schiff and Porter share comparable views, albeit with totally different approaches. Even Schiff — who is taken into account the centrist within the race — helps progressive priorities like common healthcare and the Inexperienced New Deal local weather plan.

However the warfare on Gaza is a essential level of divergence. Schiff, the previous chair of the Home Intelligence Committee, is a staunch defender of Israel. Final month, he voted with the Republican majority in favour of a $17.6bn assist invoice for Israel. Most Democrats had opposed the measure, which in the end failed, as a result of it didn’t embrace help for Ukraine.

Porter, who has been in Congress since 2019, is just not identified for her overseas coverage positions however can also be a vocal supporter of Israel. In December, she referred to as for a ceasefire with a caveat: that Hamas be eliminated “from operational management of Gaza”.

In the identical assertion, Porter falsely blamed Hamas, not Israel’s blockade, for the “shortages of meals, clear water, gas and drugs” through the years in Gaza.

“I imagine we’d like an enduring ceasefire,” she not too long ago instructed the Los Angeles Instances. “It is a battle between Israel and Hamas, and the job of the USA is to convey Israel and Hamas into dialog and to seek out out what the preconditions are, like the discharge of hostages and totally different management in Gaza.”

In distinction, Lee has been constantly calling for a direct and unconditional ceasefire.

“The one method that we’re going to see peace and safety and justice for the Israelis and the Palestinian individuals is thru a political and diplomatic resolution,” Lee mentioned in November 2023.

The congresswoman has additionally been endorsed by distinguished progressives who’re supportive of Palestinian rights, together with Congress members Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Mark Pocan.

Nonetheless, she has struggled to maintain up with the fundraising of Schiff and Porter, who get pleasure from extra institutional assist. Filings made with the Federal Election Fee present that Schiff, for example, had practically $34.9m in “money available” for his marketing campaign in January.

Lee’s probabilities

So does Lee have an opportunity within the Tremendous Tuesday race?

Yassar Dahbour, the chair of the Palestine American League, says he’s “hopeful” however lifelike about her probabilities.

“She stood on the market, and he or she’s resonating with the voters, however there are different components in impact,” Dahbour instructed Al Jazeera. “And sadly, in American politics, cash has fairly an impact on the end result and end result of elections.”

Dahbour lauded Lee’s advocacy for a everlasting ceasefire in Gaza, calling her a voice for justice, however mentioned it stays to be seen how a lot her place will sway voters past the progressive base.

For his half, Shergill dismissed polls that present Lee behind the three different main candidates, saying that early indicators level to a low turnout on Tuesday.

“In a low turnout election, the sort of energised people who wish to see Barbara Lee elected might make the distinction,” he mentioned.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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