PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Jewish Democrats are setting up a superPAC to defend Hillary Clinton and other candidates from what they say will be a Sheldon Adelson-funded onslaught among Jewish voters.
Jews for Progress has raised over $1 million over the last two months, one of its founders, Ron Klein, a former Florida congressman who consults with Democrats, confirmed to JTA on Monday.
Also backing the superPAC – a term that describes a political action committee that may raise unlimited funds – are Marc Stanley, a past chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council; Michael Adler, a Miami lawyer who is a major fundraiser for Democratic candidates, and two longtime donors to Democratic and pro-Israel causes, Fran Katz Watson and Steve Paikowsky.
“Sheldon Adelson is indicating he will put $25 million into the Republican Jewish Coalition’s message machine, which in the past has provided lies and distortions from the presidential all the way to congressional races,” Klein said.
He said the PAC would focus on swing states where Jewish populations could make the difference, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado.
The SuperPAC’s day-to-day operatives are Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak, who run Bluelight Strategies, a Washington consultancy to Jewish and liberal groups.
Jewish Insider first reported the establishment of the PAC after Stanley made a presentation Monday to the Pennsylvania delegation at the Democratic National Convention underway this week in Philadelphia. The PAC will formally launch at the convention on Thursday.
It was not clear what the source was for Jews for Progress’ claim that Adelson is ready to spend $25 million. Matt Brooks, the RJC’s director, would not comment on what his organization’s affiliated PAC had planned for this electoral cycle.
A substantial majority of Jews – about 70 percent – continue to vote Democratic, although the RJC has made inroads in some election years by canvassing Jewish areas in swing states with fliers, as well as targeted web ads, robocalls, ads in Jewish media and cable TV ads. Jewish backing for President Barack Obama dropped to 69 percent in 2012 from 75 percent in 2008.
Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, pro-Israel philanthropist and backer of Republican candidates, is a major RJC giver.
Brooks noted that NJDC figures like Stanley had in the past derided RJC spending efforts to move the Jewish vote.
“After years of downplaying our significant success, it’s nice to see they’re acknowledging it and trying to copy us,” he said. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”