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J-Street announces endorsements

A dovish pro-Israel lobby endorsed seven candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The political action committee affiliate of J-Street, the recently established lobby that backs increased U.S. involvement in Middle East peacemaking, on Monday named seven targets for its fund-raisers.

The incumbents are Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and first-time candidates Darcy Burner in Washington state, Donna Edwards in Maryland, Debbie Halvorson in Illinois, Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio and Dennis Shulman in New Jersey. All the first-timers are Democrats.

All except Edwards are targeting vulnerable Republicans in a year in which Democrats are expected to enhance their majority in the House. Edwards is running to replace Al Wynn, a Democrat she defeated in the primaries in a safe Democratic seat.

J-Street will contribute to the candidates as a PAC and also will coordinate small Internet-based donations. Such donations have underwritten the strong fund-raising success behind the presidential run of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

“We need to support Israel and see that it survives, and can only do that through a strong American diplomacy,” Cohen said in a conference call. “That’s why I’m pleased that this new group has come forward.”

Candidates stressed in the conference call announcing the endorsements that they did not see the group as competing with other pro-Israel groups.

“There is a growing understanding now of the need to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, a need for vigorous diplomacy. It’s going to need a two-state solution,” Boustany said. “This is a complementary situation.”

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