An Influential Group of Republicans Remain Loyal to Liz Cheney: The Pro-Israel Donors

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Liz Cheney, the congresswoman from Wyoming who is perhaps Donald Trump’s fiercest critic, isn’t too popular in her party these days: House Republican caucus the kicked out of her leadership role and some influential Republicans want her out of the GOP, period.

But there is a section of the party where she gets support: pro-Israel Republicans continue to raise funds for Cheney.

Cheney’s good faith as one of the right-wing pro-Israel community’s best friends since her father, Dick, was vice president and she held a leadership position in Middle Eastern politics. Orient at the State Department is helping him outplay his opponents in an August primary, even though some of his former pro-Israel donors are wary of his war with Trump.

Bill Kilberg, an attorney who is deeply involved in funding Hebrew University in Israel, last month threw a donor party for it in McLean, Va., the same posh Washington suburb where Dick Cheney is now based. . Kilberg’s wife, Bobbie, told CNN the couple intended to hold the Cheney fundraiser at home, but chose a larger venue as RSVPs poured in.

That’s typical of the pro-Israel community, which prides itself on its loyalty to politicians who have championed the Jewish state for years, regardless of their circumstances, said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. The RJC-affiliated political action committee endorsed Cheney and gave him the maximum $10,000 per cycle.

“We support our friends who have been leaders and supporters over the years no matter where they have been on other external issues,” Brooks said.

Brooks noted that in addition to the Kilbergs, pro-Israel Jewish stalwarts who have held fundraisers for Cheney include Mel Sembler, the Florida-based mall mogul, and Eric Levine, who runs an eponymous law firm. At New York.

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, addresses the group’s annual conference on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Courtesy)

Cheney’s recipes with the centrist and right-wing pro-Israel communities run deep: His father was one of Israel’s most outspoken defenders in an administration already known for its kindness to Israel. He clashed with Condoleezza Rice during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, undermining his efforts as secretary of state to bring Israel to heel.

Liz Cheney was working for Rice at the time as a senior deputy assistant secretary of state, focusing on Middle East issues. But she clearly sided with her father at the expense of her boss in that clash – at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in 2008, shortly after leaving the Bush administration, she lambasted Rice’s pressure on Israel to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Even out of government from 2007 until her election to Congress in Wyoming in 2016, Liz Cheney was a frontline pro-Israel warrior, appearing on op-ed pages as a political warrior ready to do battle with Israel’s critics. Israel. She won applause at AIPAC conferences, blaming then-US President Barack Obama for not following Israel’s lead in threatening military action to prevent Iran from becoming a state. armed with nuclear weapons.

Returning to government as a lawmaker from a state where there were virtually no Jews, she assumed a leadership role on pro-Israel issues. She co-sponsored a series of pro-Israel legislation and pushed for military engagement with Iran, a rare call even among warmongering Republicans.

President Donald Trump hands Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, third from left, his pen after signing one of the various bills in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, Monday, March 27, 2017 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Cheney took the lead in the summer of 2020 when Democrats warned Israel not to annex West Bank territory, spearheading a letter saying Republicans would not stand in the way of annexation.

So she has the resume to maintain substantial pro-Israel support, said Fred Zeidman, a Houston businessman who is a leader among Republican Jewish fundraisers and not involved in the race. of Wyoming one way or another.

“Anyone who was for her will continue to be for her,” he said in an interview. “If you had been one of his supporters, you should stick to it, if only for another reason, on principle.

Cheney has raised $10 million this round as a whole, including nearly $3 million in the last quarter.

But his pariah status among Republicans complicates matters for his supporters. Cheney is not just a critic of Trump; she co-chairs the congressional committee investigating the insurgency he sparked on January 6, 2021 and has said Trump may be criminally responsible.

There’s no Republican Trump — still effectively the GOP’s thought leader — hates more than Cheney. He made his ouster his top priority and endorsed his chief GOP opponent, Harriet Hageman, a lawyer. A December poll showed Hageman leading Cheney 38% to 18% in the primary in one of the most Republican and pro-Trump states — and that was before Hageman won Trump’s endorsement.

Vice President Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., left, listens as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues his contempt charges against former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in response to their failure to comply with subpoenas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This makes public identification with Cheney a difficult prospect. She is not among the 20 Republicans appearing on the RJC PAC endorsement page, but Brooks said the page is not finalized.

“By definition, our contribution to her is an endorsement,” he said. “We continue to roll out our listings in the future.”

For now, however, the RJC is treading cautiously, denying Cheney their easier way to obtain funds, through the RJC PAC.

AIPAC, which once had a close relationship with Cheney, did not include her in its first list of 120 candidates approved by its newly created political action committee, and she has yet to be endorsed by Pro-Israel. America, a bipartisan PAC led by former senior AIPAC executives.

Both groups said it was the start; the Wyoming caucus is in August.

“Pro-Israel America is closely following all races across the country, including the main race for Wyoming’s at-large congressional district,” said Jeff Mendelsohn, executive director of Pro-Israel America, in an e-mail. mail. “We are currently very focused on the upcoming spring primaries and intend to make additional endorsements in the future.”

AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said more endorsements are forthcoming.

“The AIPAC PAC has been around for less than four months,” he said. “We will continue our review and make decisions regarding contributions for the remainder of the 2022 election cycle.”

Cheney might not favor an AIPAC endorsement: She was furious with the group for including dozens of Republicans among its endorsers who refused to certify Biden as president.

“America’s relationship with Israel has never been more important,” she tweeted last month. “Those of us who have never wavered in our support for Israel or our fight against anti-Semitism in the US and around the world want @AIPAC members to know that your leadership is playing a dangerous political game. “

Cheney’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

Ben Chouake, the chairman of NORPAC, a pro-Israel PAC that backed Cheney in the last round but didn’t this time around, said the group’s reluctance to endorse him stemmed from its weak prospects. .

“It’s really terrible for an incumbent,” he said of his polls. “We’ve supported her in the past, she’s good on questions, but she has a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” he said, referring to his battles with Trump in a state where the former president remains popular. “She has taken positions that put her in a very unpopular position in her state.”

Cheney hopes Democrats will vote for her in the primary and that Hageman will split the Trumpian vote with Anthony Bouchard, a state senator who is completely aligned with the former president’s ideals, even though he didn’t get the vote. Trump’s endorsement. An attempt by pro-Trump state lawmakers to strike down a Wyoming law that allows members of one party to vote in the other’s primary has failed. Even so, political analysts say it will still be difficult for Cheney to secure a primary victory.

Hageman also has the backing of some of Cheney’s most important former allies: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, as well as an array of donors who have given to Trump in the past.

Cheney also has some establishment support, but Republicans who like her have likely broken with Trump for good, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (right) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell address the National Prayer Breakfast at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 3, 2022. (Greg Nash-Pool /Getty Images/AFP)

McCarthy and the congresswoman who replaced Cheney a year ago as House Republican Conference Speaker, Elise Stefanik of New York, were both Trump critics who now all agree with the former president. Cheney is the vanguard of a party faction, also led by McConnell, that believes it’s time to leave Trump behind.

“There are clearly schisms within the party, and there will be people who will strongly support Liz and stand by or there will be others who will not,” said Brooks, the RJC director. . “I mean, it’s just the reality, the snapshot of where we are today.”

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