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California mayor flips Senate endorsement from Schiff to Lee, citing Gaza stance

The mayor of Burbank, Calif., who had previously endorsed Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) in the competitive race for California’s U.S. Senate seat, announced Monday he is instead endorsing Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), citing Schiff’s refusal to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

“[Schiff’s] silence on a cease-fire is what really drew me to consider” rescinding my support, Konstantine Anthony told The Washington Post in an interview Monday. “And the continued silence is why I endorsed Barbara Lee.”

Anthony, a Democrat, said he supports Israel’s right to defend itself but criticized Israeli military action in Gaza, following the attack on Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7. At least 18,205 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 49,645 wounded since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. At least 1,200 people were killed in Israel during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.

Burbank is part of Schiff’s congressional district, and its mayor said he had sought to get the congressman to support a cease-fire, and not just a temporary pause in fighting to facilitate trades of hostages held by Hamas and prisoners held in Israel.

“Adam supports Israel’s right to defend itself and supports humanitarian pauses to encourage the release of hostages and allow critical aid to reach civilians in Gaza,” Maryam Ahmed, a spokesman for Schiff’s campaign, said in a statement. Last month Schiff reiterated his call for aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which he called “heartbreaking.”

Lee said in a news release announcing Anthony’s endorsement that she was “deeply honored” to receive it. The announcement also came a day after another outspoken liberal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he did not think it was possible to have a permanent cease-fire with Hamas because it has stated a desire to attack Israel again.

Schiff, Lee and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) are the most prominent candidates running for the Senate seat formerly held by Dianne Feinstein, who announced in February that she would not seek reelection and died in late September as the oldest sitting senator.

Soon after Feinstein announced her plans to give up her seat, Anthony endorsed Schiff. “His support for the Green New Deal and Medicare for All are exemplary, but what won me over is his refusal to accept any corporate donations in this race,” Anthony wrote on social media in February. Schiff at the time referred to the endorsement as “an honor.”

Under California election rules, the top two vote-getters in the March primary will advance to the November general election, regardless of party.

Days after the Hamas attack in Israel, Anthony began advocating a cease-fire in the conflict. “The awesome power of the United States must be used to negotiate a cease-fire,” Anthony said in an Oct. 20 statement posted on social media. It was language that echoed a statement released by Lee and fellow liberal House members Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Greg Casar (D-Tex.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), and Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) on Oct. 17 that called for the United States to “help achieve an immediate cease-fire, or, at minimum, a temporary cessation of all hostilities that stops the threats to civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

Anthony publicly asked Schiff to call for a cease-fire on Oct. 31, saying on social media that he couldn’t continue to endorse Schiff until the congressman made a public show of support for a halt to the fighting in Gaza. At the time, he said he wouldn’t endorse another candidate in the race to give Schiff time to make his statement. That time came to an end with Monday’s announcement.

“If my endorsement has any power whatsoever,” Anthony told The Post, “I’m hoping it sheds a light not only on what is happening in our country, but what our country is doing in other countries.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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