A political action committee funded mostly by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman is reportedly contemplating launching a primary campaign to remove Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, and Cori Bush, D-Mo. Dmitri Mehlhorn, Hoffman’s longtime political advisor, revealed that he approached the heads of the Mainstream Democrats PAC about backing a primary effort against the two progressive House lawmakers. This move would mark a significant effort by influential Democratic Party-aligned donors to potentially topple two progressive legislators.
Mehlhorn cited Tlaib and Bush’s critical stance on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza following Hamas’ attack on October 7 as a possible reason for their potential primary challenge. These ongoing conversations between Mehlhorn and the Mainstream Democrats PAC have fueled hope that the PAC will support efforts to oust Bush and Tlaib. Mehlhorn expressed eagerness to raise support for this initiative.
The Financial Potential of the Mainstream Democrats PAC
As a super PAC, the Mainstream Democrats PAC is capable of legally raising an unlimited amount of money from individual donors. In contrast, a campaign can only receive up to $3,300 from a single contributor during a primary or general election fight. With contributions exceeding $1.5 million, Hoffman emerges as a leading donor for the PAC, while Deborah Simon, the daughter of the co-founder of Simon Property Group, donated $1 million last year. Notably, Daniel Benton and Paul Finnegan have each donated $100,000 this year.
During the 2022 election, both Tlaib and Bush faced primary challenges but managed to secure their re-elections. However, Bush is currently facing a primary fight from St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who dropped his bid to unseat Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in favor of challenging the progressive Democrat. Tlaib, on the other hand, has yet to encounter a primary challenge this cycle.
The Mainstream Democrats PAC, known for its efforts against progressive Democrats, played a role in the defeat of certain progressive candidates during the 2022 congressional midterms. Their campaign spending exceeded $150,000 on advertisements against progressive Nina Turner, who subsequently lost in a primary against Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio. Additionally, the PAC invested almost $750,000 to support Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who triumphed in a primary challenge against progressive Jessica Cisneros.
The PAC maintains associations with the Democratic Majority for Israel, an organization advocating for Israel. Both entities share the same pollster and office space. The Democratic Majority for Israel’s nonprofit donated $500,000 to the Mainstream Democrats PAC last year, further solidifying their financial resources.
The potential primary fight against Tlaib and Bush by the Mainstream Democrats PAC reflects a growing divide within the Democratic Party. With Hoffman’s substantial financial contributions, the PAC has the means to mount a significant campaign. The critical stance of the progressive lawmakers on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza appears to be a key factor motivating this primary challenge effort. As the situation continues to develop, it remains uncertain whether this campaign will ultimately materialize, but it represents an important dynamic within the Democratic Party as more centrist and progressive factions clash.