The Illinois Primary election results this past Tuesday were interesting, and not just for us elections nerds (read us). After Texas, the Illinois’ were the second set of party primaries held this year. Not that the Republicans were sleeping on this election, but Democratic voters and candidates were exceptionally eager to vote – Democratic voter turnout skyrocketed 300 percent up from the last off-year election in 2014, and the number of Democratic candidates increased from 24 to 49 in those four years. Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District has a significant Arab American population, and their presence was felt in the Democratic primary, pitting incumbent Dan Lipinski against progressive challenger Marie Newman. Newman released a video ad (watch it) reaching out to local Arab Americans and American Muslims, featuring voices from these communities giving support for Newman, and encouraging the community to get out and vote. Before Newman’s ad was cut a few seconds shorter, the original ad specifically called out AIPAC by name as a special interest group Newman won’t pander to, and criticized Lipinski’s support of legislation penalizing First Amendment-protected boycotts targeting Israel. That ad was blasted out on a fundraising email by a former AIPAC president, accusing Newman of pandering to district residents who they called “anti-Israel” (translation: those who support free speech and human rights), and urging supporters to donate the “maximum” amount possible to Newman’s opponent. Newman was ultimately narrowly defeated (51%-49%), losing by just over 2,000 votes. Outcome aside, seeing candidates courting the votes of their constituents -- including, Arab Americans is how it should be done.

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