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J Street supports Edwards campaign for Senate

Rep. Donna F. Edwards speaks at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Times Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Rep. Donna F. Edwards speaks at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Times Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Harry E. Walker / MCT)

WASHINGTON -- A liberal Jewish group with long ties to Rep. Donna F. Edwards announced its support for her Senate campaign on Thursday, despite criticism the Prince George's County Democrat has received for some votes she has taken on Israel.

J Street, an early supporter of Edwards that has organized fundraisers for her past House campaigns, is encouraging supporters to donate to her campaign to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring in 2017.

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"Representative Edwards has been a leader in the fight for peace and security for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples," the group's founder and president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in a statement. "I have seen her commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grow."

The endorsement comes weeks after a series of stories noting reservations that some in the Jewish community have expressed over a half-dozen votes Edwards has taken on Israel. In 2013, for instance, Edwards was one of 17 Democrats who voted against legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. The bill passed 400-20 but was sidelined in the Senate.

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Edwards is running against Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the Democratic nomination. Van Hollen has voted with a majority of Democrats on most of the issues supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the dominant pro-Israel lobbying group.

"I am thrilled to receive the support of J Street in my fight to become Maryland's next United States Senator," Edwards said in a statement. "Together, we have traveled throughout Israel, fought for the critical issues relating to her peace and security, and advocated for the bold American leadership required to make a two-state solution a reality."

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