Good news for Jewish can­di­dates

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONTLINES - • By BEN SALES

Be­yond be­ing a good night for Democrats, who took con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and won sev­eral gov­er­nor­ships, Tues­day had good news for Jewish can­di­dates.

Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for the Jewish Demo­cratic Coun­cil of Amer­ica (JDCA), all 23 Jewish in­cum­bents who ran for re­elec­tion – 21 of them Democrats – won.

In ad­di­tion, eight Jewish can­di­dates en­tered the House, two Jews won gov­er­nor­ships (in Illi­nois and Colorado), and one, Jacky Rosen, won her Se­nate race in Ne­vada. All are Democrats. The next House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will have a to­tal of 28 Jews, and there will be nine Jewish se­na­tors.

The num­ber of Jewish Repub­li­cans in Congress re­mains two: Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York’s 1st con­gres­sional dis­trict, and Rep. Lee Kustoff in Ten­nessee’s 8th.

Ac­cord­ing to Jim Ger­stein of GBA Strate­gies, a Demo­crat-aligned poll­ster com­mis­sioned by the lib­eral Is­rael lobby J Street, Jewish vot­ers’ strong pref­er­ence for Democrats was driven by their dis­ap­proval of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and their blam­ing him, specif­i­cally, for help­ing in­flu­ence the shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh sy­n­a­gogue two weeks ago. Sev­enty-five per­cent of Jewish vot­ers dis­ap­prove of Trump, ver­sus 25% who ap­prove, and 72% of Jewish vot­ers hold Trump very or some­what re­spon­si­ble for the Pitts­burgh shoot­ing, in which 11 peo­ple died, a GBA poll found.

Ger­stein said that Jews re­flect the po­lar­iza­tion in the rest of the elec­torate: While sup­port­ers of Trump ap­pre­ci­ate his close re­la­tion­ship with Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, his de­trac­tors in­sist that doesn’t soften their dis­ap­proval for the pres­i­dent’s rhetoric or be­hav­ior.

“While the coun­try is ex­tremely po­lar­ized, Amer­i­can Jews are firmly in one of those two camps,” Ger­stein said on a call with re­porters Wed­nes­day. “They’re firmly in that Demo­cratic camp, that anti-Trump camp .... Trump’s em­brace of Ne­tanyahu doesn’t mit­i­gate the con­cern peo­ple have over an­ti­semitism. Th­ese things are op­er­at­ing on com­pletely dif­fer­ent planes.”

Jews voted for Democrats at a higher rate than any re­li­gious group, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. Pew re­ported that this year’s Jewish Demo­cratic share was lower than dur­ing the last midterms un­der a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion, in 2006, when 87% of Jews voted for Democrats. But it was higher than in the most re­cent midterms, in 2014, when 66% of Jews voted for Democrats and 33% for Repub­li­cans. In 2016, 70% of Jews voted for Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and 25% voted for Trump.

Lib­eral Jewish groups are also cel­e­brat­ing. J Street PAC, the po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee af­fil­i­ated with the lib­eral Mideast pol­icy group, spent $5 mil­lion in midterm con­tri­bu­tions and saw 128 of its 167 en­dorsees – all Democrats – win their races, in­clud­ing 22 new House mem­bers and 14 of 17 se­na­tors they en­dorsed. Forty-seven of the 58 can­di­dates en­dorsed by the JDCA won.

“We like to think of it as pulling the emer­gency brake on the out-of-con­trol ad­min­is­tra­tion and pres­i­dent we’ve been un­der for the past two years,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s pres­i­dent, said on the con­fer­ence call. He noted that more than half of the House’s in­com­ing class is en­dorsed by J Street.

“The 2018 midterm elec­tions were a clear ref­er­en­dum on Pres­i­dent Trump, and a re­jec­tion of his hate­ful poli­cies and rhetoric,” JDCA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Halie Soifer said in a state­ment. “Jewish vot­ers over­whelm­ingly and de­ci­sively re­jected Repub­li­cans be­cause they have en­abled an agenda that is a be­trayal of Jewish and Amer­i­can val­ues.” DE­SPITE THE re­sults in the House, Jewish Repub­li­cans were cheer­ing their party’s gains in the Se­nate as well as wins in a few key House races and gov­er­nor­ships. The Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion raised a to­tal of $3m. for can­di­dates. A ma­jor­ity of its 25 en­dorsees won or are lead­ing.

In par­tic­u­lar, the group noted the vic­to­ries of Kevin Kramer over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Brian Fitz­patrick’s House vic­tory in Penn­syl­va­nia, and Den­ver Rig­gle­man beat­ing Les­lie Cock­burn in Vir­ginia. Cock­burn is the co-au­thor of a 1991 book that harshly crit­i­cized Is­rael.

“His­tor­i­cally, the party hold­ing the White House loses seats in Congress dur­ing the midterm elec­tion,” RJC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Matt Brooks said in a state­ment. “This year Repub­li­cans did well in a tough en­vi­ron­ment and in­creased their share in the Se­nate.”

One bright spot for Repub­li­cans na­tion­ally was Florida, which saw Repub­li­can can­di­dates for gov­er­nor and sen­a­tor pre­vail in close, high-pro­file races. As of Wed­nes­day, Rep. Ron DeSan­tis beat An­drew Gil­lum for gov­er­nor by less than 1%, and Gov. Rick Scott was 0.4% ahead of Sen. Bill Nel­son in the Se­nate race.

Florida Jews ap­pear to have backed the Democrats in large num­bers. Ger­stein said that, while the sam­ple size was small, GBA’s poll found that 70% of Florida Jews voted for Democrats on Tues­day. •

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.