Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania will not endorse Scott Wallace, the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District, in his November race against Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick, DJOP founder Jill Zipin said.
The lack of endorsement for a Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania is a first for DJOP, Zipin said.
In the wake of news that Wallace, 66, served as co-chair of a family-operated fund that was revealed to have endorsed organizations that were supportive of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, DJOP members met with Wallace in late May.
“His answers to our questions, while honest, did not answer or quell any of our concerns that we may have had,” Zipin said.
Wallace maintained his support for Israel in a written statement.
“I am totally committed to the safety and security of Israel, from all threats in the region and from misguided pressure tactics like the BDS movement,” Wallace wrote. “I welcome the support of any organization that shares these values. I know that I may have to work hard to earn their trust, but I’m committed to doing so. I have had many positive and informative meetings with local leaders of the pro-Israel community, and I look forward to continuing that dialogue.”
Predictably, DJOP will not endorse the Republican incumbent, Fitzpatrick, 44, who has held office since 2017 and won election after his brother, Michael, declined to seek reelection for the former 8th Congressional District seat.
Fitzpatrick distanced himself from President Trump before the 2016 election but has consistently voted with the president in Congress, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. Zipin has spoken of DJOP’s desire to help flip the House from red to blue.
But despite Wallace’s alignment with DJOP’s domestic agenda, the organization couldn’t look past the Wallace Fund’s support for pro-BDS groups, which was detailed in a Forward report published May 16.
“Many Jewish groups are coming to the same conclusion that the families in Bucks and Montgomery counties have,” Haley Bova, a spokesperson for Team Fitzpatrick, said in a written statement. “The more you know about Scott Wallace, the less there is to like. The fact that he sat atop a family foundation that gave him access to untold wealth, and then he used his foundation to funnel literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to various extreme anti-Israel hate groups that are entrenched in the BDS movement, tells us all we need to know about Scott Wallace.”
At the moment, no Jewish group has endorsed Wallace, the grandson of Henry A. Wallace, vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1941-45. Wallace stepped down from his family’s fund in January after officially announcing his intent to run for office.
“The grants in question were made by a member of the Wallace Global Fund’s leadership from a discretionary fund that other leadership did not exercise authority over,” Wallace campaign manager Eric Nagy said in a written statement in May.
DJOP was founded in 2008 to help support Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania who reflect Jewish values. Burt Siegel, who serves on DJOP’s steering committee and is a former executive director of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council, said he believes Wallace is well-intentioned and not opposed to Israel, but questioned his preparedness for a congressional race.
“As an organization that cares deeply about Israel, we’re not comfortable with what is, at best, carelessness,” Siegel said.
Neither Fitzpatrick nor Wallace have staked a clear advantage in the race. A Monmouth University poll released June 4 has Fitzpatrick getting support of 48 percent of likely voters in a “standard” midterm electorate to Wallace’s 47 percent. But with a “surge” of Democratic voters, similar to other races in 2017-18, Wallace has the edge at 48 percent to Fitzpatrick at 47 percent.
“It is disappointing that we’re not able to [endorse Wallace], and it was a difficult decision for our PAC, as he appears to be good on domestic issues,” Zipin said. “We still have concerns and we will not be endorsing any candidate.
“We will leave it to the voters of Bucks County to decide.”