A political action committee (PAC) primarily funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman is reportedly considering launching a primary campaign to challenge Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri. Dmitri Mehlhorn, an advisor to Hoffman, recently approached the heads of the Mainstream Democrats PAC with the idea of backing a primary effort against the two progressive House lawmakers. Mehlhorn cited the lawmakers’ critical stance on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza following Hamas’ attack as a potential reason for the primary campaign. The conversations between Mehlhorn and the PAC have been ongoing for the past month, and Mehlhorn remains hopeful that the PAC will move forward with the challenge.
If the Mainstream Democrats PAC decides to support primary candidates against Tlaib or Bush, it would signify a well-financed effort backed by some of the Democratic Party’s wealthiest donors to potentially remove these progressive lawmakers from office. As a super PAC, Mainstream Democrats can legally raise an unlimited amount of money from individual donors, giving them a significant advantage over traditional campaigns. Hoffman alone has already contributed over $1.5 million to the PAC since its launch in 2022. Other top donors include Deborah Simon, Daniel Benton, and Paul Finnegan.
Both Tlaib and Bush faced primary challenges during the 2022 election but were ultimately reelected. However, the upcoming primary fight could pose a significant threat to Bush, as St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has already announced his intention to run against her. Bell withdrew from his bid to unseat Republican Senator Josh Hawley to challenge Bush instead. Tlaib, on the other hand, has not faced a primary challenge this cycle.
The potential primary campaign against Tlaib and Bush would not be the first time the Mainstream Democrats PAC targeted progressive candidates within the Democratic Party. During the 2022 congressional midterms, the PAC played a role in defeating some progressive Democrats. They spent over $150,000 on ads against progressive candidate Nina Turner, who ultimately lost in a primary against Representative Shontel Brown. Additionally, the PAC invested nearly $750,000 in support of Representative Henry Cuellar, who faced a primary challenge by progressive candidate Jessica Cisneros.
It is worth noting that the Mainstream Democrats PAC has ties to the Democratic Majority for Israel, a pro-Israel organization that supports both a 501(c)(4) and a PAC. The PAC donated $500,000 to the Mainstream Democrats PAC last year. The two organizations also share the same pollster and office space.
Despite the potential primary campaign, neither the Mainstream Democrats PAC nor Hoffman have provided public comments regarding their intentions. It remains to be seen how this latest development will affect the progressive lawmakers and the broader dynamics within the Democratic Party. As the conversations continue, the political landscape could shift, and the progressive movement may face the challenge of defending their positions against well-funded opposition from within their own party.