Five Jewish take­aways from US Elec­tion Day

Jerusalem Post - - FRONTLINES - (Aaron P. Bern­stein/Reuters) • By RON KAMPEAS

VIR­GINIA GOVER­NOR Elect Ralph Northam, cen­ter, cel­e­brates with, from left, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gover­nor Elect Justin Fair­fax, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Her­ring and Sen. Mark Warner, at his elec­tion night rally Tues­day on the cam­pus of Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity in Fair­fax, Vir­ginia. WASH­ING­TON (JTA) – The big post-Elec­tion Day head­line is the stun­ning Demo­cratic sweep in Vir­ginia’s gu­ber­na­to­rial and House elec­tions, cou­pled with the pre­dicted Demo­cratic win of the gover­nor’s man­sion in New Jersey. Repub­li­cans are won­der­ing what this says about the train that was Trump­ism.

In Vir­ginia, Ed Gille­spie was an es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­can who ran a cam­paign mod­eled after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s shock­ing win a year ago. Gille­spie fo­cused on so­cial hot-but­ton is­sues like pre­serv­ing Con­fed­er­ate stat­ues and the al­leged pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grant gangs. The GOP can­di­date lost, big-time.

Democrats, mean­time, are mar­veling at a unity they had be­lieved was dis­si­pat­ing fol­low­ing last year’s con­tentious pri­maries clash be­tween Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) and Hil­lary Clin­ton, who de­feated San­ders but came up short in the gen­eral elec­tion to Trump.

San­ders’ pick in Vir­ginia, Tom Per­riello, lost in the pri­maries but went all in for the es­tab­lish­ment-backed win­ner, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Both the party es­tab­lish­ment and the left­ists who buck it were hail­ing the close post-pri­maries co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Per­riello and Northam as a model for the Democrats ahead of next year’s midterm con­gres­sional elec­tions.

No Jews won ma­jor con­tests, but there are Jewish take­aways in this off-year elec­tion. Here are five:

NOVA rocks the vote

Vir­ginia over the last cou­ple of decades seems to have tran­si­tioned from Repub­li­can red to Demo­cratic blue, with the Democrats close to tak­ing the House of Del­e­gates in a re­sult no one an­tic­i­pated.

A big rea­son for the flip was the pro­fes­sion­als crowd­ing into North­ern Vir­ginia – NOVA to ini­ti­ates – at­tracted to the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs be­cause of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of jobs in gov­ern­ment, lob­by­ing and the hi-tech sec­tor, and to Vir­ginia’s DC sub­urbs, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of the high-qual­ity schools and bu­colic set­tings.

It’s enough to drive a prom­i­nent Trump backer, Jerry Fal­well Jr., to call for the se­ces­sion of north­ern Vir­ginia to the Dis­trict of Columbia. “DC should an­nex NOVA and re­turn the gov­er­nance of VA to Vir­gini­ans!” Fal­well, the pres­i­dent of the evan­gel­i­cal Lib­erty Univer­sity in the state’s south­west, said on Twit­ter.

The in­flux of blue vot­ers is also a re­sult of a sharp growth in the Jewish pop­u­la­tion. (non-Or­tho­dox Jews over­whelm­ingly trend cen­ter-left and left.) Syn­a­gogues re­port bur­geon­ing mem­ber­ship growth. Ahead of the 2012 elec­tions, an of­fi­cial of the Wash­ing­ton-area Jewish fed­er­a­tion told JTA that North­ern Vir­ginia’s Jewish pop­u­la­tion grew to some 100,000 in 2010 from about 60,000 a decade ear­lier.

Did white su­prem­a­cists get out the vote?

Vir­ginia’s Al­ber­marle County was closely watched this elec­tion, for it in­cludes Char­lottesville, the home of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia and a lib­eral en­clave in con­ser­va­tive cen­tral Vir­ginia. Democrats are no­to­ri­ously tough to get out in off-year elec­tions, and Al­ber­marle was seen as a bell­wether of the party’s get-out-the-vote op­er­a­tion. Get the vote out here, the think­ing went, and Democrats have a shot.

The vote got out. Northam car­ried the county with a 12,000vote ma­jor­ity, com­pared to Terry McAuliffe, the in­cum­bent Demo­cratic gover­nor, who won it by 6,500 votes in 2013.

We can’t know why Demo­cratic polling surged un­less and un­til the county’s vot­ers are polled. But it’s not a stretch to con­clude that the Au­gust 12 march in Char­lottesville by white su­prem­a­cists and neo-Nazis – which cul­mi­nated when a one of their num­ber rammed his car into a crowd of coun­ter­protesters, killing one – gal­va­nized lib­eral turnout.

A vir­tual poster, in Yid­dish

In Mea She’arim, a haredi Or­tho­dox neigh­bor­hood in Jerusalem, the best way to take the po­lit­i­cal pulse is by look­ing at the stone walls, where densely writ­ten posters break down the is­sues in Yid­dish.

This is not so in 21st-cen­tury New York City. The bat­tle be­tween two Or­tho­dox Jewish can­di­dates for the Boro Park seat on the City Coun­cil there was fought on What­sApp, the mes­sag­ing app, and the is­sues in Brook­lyn were not the es­o­ter­ica that of­ten drives di­vi­sions among the fer­vently Or­tho­dox in Is­rael.

The vir­tual barbs in the Boro Park race, The For­ward re­ported, were sharp and pro­saic. Loy­al­ists to Yoni Hikind, son of the vet­eran state law­maker Dov Hikind, al­leged, without proof, that his ri­val, Kal­man Yeger, had ties to pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivist Linda Sar­sour. Hikind, in turn, was dinged for be­ing sin­gle.

Some po­lit­i­cal tra­di­tions die hard, though: The What­sApp mes­sages, like those Mea She’arim posters, were more of­ten than not anony­mous. And in Yid­dish.

Yeger, hand­picked by in­cum­bent David Green­field, who is leav­ing the post, trounced Hikind.

The Jewish marathoner run­ning to lead Min­neapo­lis

Ja­cob Frey, 36, a marathon run­ner, sup­pos­edly faced a hur­dle in his bid to be­come mayor of Min­neapo­lis be­cause he wasn’t born in Min­ne­sota. (The na­tive Vir­ginian fell in love with the city a decade ago, when he ran in the Pan Amer­i­can Games held there.)

His Jewish Demo­cratic cre­den­tials are im­pec­ca­ble, how­ever: At the Col­lege of Wil­liam and Mary in Wil­liams­burg, Vir­ginia, he be­friended Ron Rapoport, a pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor, and did the Jewish hol­i­days with his fam­ily. Rapoport’s dad was the leg­endary Demo­cratic Party king­maker and Texan Jew, B. Rapoport. (For­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton de­liv­ered the eu­logy at B. Rapoport’s fu­neral in 2012.)

B. Rapoport rec­og­nized ta­lent: He told Frey when he was still in col­lege that the young man had the gift for pol­i­tics, ac­cord­ing to a Star Tri­bune pro­file of the city coun­cilor.

The child of bal­let dancers, Frey may prove his late men­tor right: He won, un­seat­ing in­cum­bent Mayor Betsy Hodges.

Frey, who was en­dorsed by The Star Tri­bune, is an at­tor­ney and a mem­ber of the board of the of the Jewish Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions Coun­cil: Min­ne­sota and the Dako­tas. The JCRC noted that the Twin Cities scored a twofer: St. Paul elected its first African Amer­i­can mayor.

“The JCRC con­grat­u­lates Melvin Carter for his his­toric elec­tion as the first African Amer­i­can mayor of St. Paul, as well as JCRC board mem­ber Ja­cob Frey for be­com­ing the sec­ond Jewish mayor of Min­neapo­lis,” it said in a state­ment. The first Jewish mayor of Min­neapo­lis, Art Naf­talin, served from 19611969.

How a Jewish woman paved the way for New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor

Dawn Zim­mer made head­lines when she be­came mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2009. She was a Jewish woman in a city on the Hud­son River known for its large Ital­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity and its views of the New York City sky­line. As pres­i­dent of the City Coun­cil, she be­came act­ing mayor when her pre­de­ces­sor re­signed in a cor­rup­tion scan­dal, then was elected in her own right in a spe­cial elec­tion.

Five years later she made head­lines again when she re­vealed that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov. Chris Christie tried to make Su­per­storm Sandy re­cov­ery funds con­tin­gent on her back­ing a real-es­tate project fa­vored by the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Com­ing soon after re­ports that the gover­nor’s aides blocked ac­cess to the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Bridge to pun­ish an­other Demo­cratic mayor, Zim­mer’s 2014 al­le­ga­tion prompted an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

This year, the pop­u­lar Demo­cratic mayor sur­prised her con­stituents by opt­ing not to run again, say­ing she pre­ferred to fo­cus on cli­mate change. In­stead, she en­dorsed City Coun­cil­man Ravi Bhalla.

Bhalla won, be­com­ing the state’s first Sikh mayor.


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