Democrats’ House vic­tory a pointer for 2020 change?

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ROBERT PHILPOT

THE BLUE Demo­cratic Party wave which swept Don­ald Trump’s Repub­li­cans from power in Amer­ica’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives this week will see fresh Jewish faces in Wash­ing­ton and old hands as­sum­ing new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

For­mer syn­a­gogue pres­i­dent Jacky Rosen’s oust­ing of Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Dean Heller in Ne­vada helped to limit the Democrats’ losses in the Se­nate, where the party’s long­shot hope of win­ning con­trol was ham­pered by a bat­tle­ground which con­tained a se­ries of rock solid “red states” in which Mr Trump re­mains pop­u­lar.

Vet­eran Jewish se­na­tors Dianne Fe­in­stein in Cal­i­for­nia, Bernie San­ders in Ver­mont and Mary­land’s Ben Cardin all cruised to re-elec­tion.

Mean­while, Jared Po­lis, a wealthy young tech en­tre­pre­neur who turned to pol­i­tics a decade ago, be­came Amer­ica’s first openly gay gover­nor.

Mr Po­lis’ vic­tory in Col­orado was one of two gov­er­nor­ships won by Jews: in Illi­nois, fel­low Demo­crat JB Pritzker un­seated Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Bruce Rauner. The vic­tory un­der­lined the party’s resur­gence in the Mid­west, the re­gion which un­ex­pect­edly de­liv­ered the White House to Mr Trump two years ago.

The Repub­li­cans’ much-an­tic­i­pated loss of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was, in part, pow­ered by a string of vic­to­ries by Jewish Democrats.

Heav­ily favoured can­di­dates, such as Elissa Slotkin, a for­mer sen- ior na­tional se­cu­rity un­der Barack Obama run­ning in Michi­gan; lawyer Su­san Wild in Penn­syl­va­nia; and Min­nesota en­tre­pre­neur Dean Phillips all ousted Repub­li­can in­cum­bents.

But Demo­crat un­der­dogs also helped their party win its ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Among them were two Jewish vet­er­ans — Max Rose, who was awarded a Pur­ple Heart af­ter serv­ing in Afghanistan, and Elaine Luria.

Ms Luria, a for­mer Navy com­man­der, will now rep­re­sent the Vir­ginia dis­trict that in­cludes the Nor­folk naval base.

The only two Jewish Repub­li­cans in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives — New York’s Lee Zeldin and David Kustoff, who rep­re­sents parts of Mem­phis — won re-elec­tion. Mr Zeldin de­feated Demo­crat Perry Ger­shon in one of a hand­ful of races where both can­di­dates were Jewish.

Two con­tro­ver­sial Jewish Repub­li­cans — Lena Ep­stein in Michi­gan and New Jersey’s Seth Gross­man — de­fend­ing seats held by the pres­i­dent’s party were de­feated by Democrats.

It was Ms Ep­stein who in­vited a Mes­sianic rabbi to say an open­ing prayer for the vic­tims of the Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue mas­sacre at a cam­paign rally that was also ad­dressed by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, while Mr Gross­man was cut loose by the Repub­li­can Party af­ter al­le­ga­tions con­cern­ing racist so­cial me­dia posts.

There were mixed re­sults for other Repub­li­cans from whom their party had tried to dis­tance it­self.

Iowa con­gress­man Steve King, whose links to white na­tion­al­ists and the far right had ap­peared to en­dan­ger his re-elec­tion, nar­rowly staved off de­feat, while Holo­caust de­niers John Fitzger­ald in Cal­i­for­nia and Illi­nois’ Arthur Jones were both soundly crushed.

Leslie Cock­burn, a Demo­crat run­ning in Vir­ginia, lost a race that had ap­peared close in the fi­nal days.

Her 1991 book, Dan­ger­ous Li­ai­son: The In­side Story of the US-Is­raeli Covert Re­la­tion­ship, was de­scribed by The Tablet mag­a­zine as “a favourite ref­er­ence work for un­hinged anti-Semites on both the left and the right”.

The dovish, pro-Is­rael group J-Street de­fended Ms Cock­burn from Repub­li­can al­le­ga­tions of an­tisemitism.

The new Demo­crat House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will none­the­less have a hand­ful of strong crit­ics of Is­rael come next Jan­uary. They in­clude:

Young ris­ing star Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, who de­scribed May’s clashes on the Gaza bor­der as a “mas­sacre”;

Rashida Tlaib, a Pales­tinian-Amer­i­can who sup­ports a one-state so­lu­tion;

Il­han Omar, who was re­vealed to have tweeted in 2012 about Is­rael’s “evil do­ings”.

All were elected for the first time, although theirs re­mains a dis­tinctly mi­nor­ity view and Is­rael will be re­lieved to see staunch sup­porter, Jewish New Yorker Eliot En­gel, as­sume the chair­man­ship of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.

On the do­mes­tic front, Jewish Democrats are likely to cause Mr Trump mul­ti­ple headaches in the House.

John Yar­muth, who will lead the Bud­get Com­mit­tee, is ex­pected to press for re­lease of the pres­i­dent’s tax re­turns.

Jer­rold Nadler is thought likely to use his chair­man­ship of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to look afresh at the sex­ual as­sault charges which were lev­elled against con­tro­ver­sial Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh.

Per­haps most dan­ger­ously for Mr Trump, Adam Schiff will take charge of the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and widen the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged col­lu­sion be­tween the pres­i­dent’s 2016 cam­paign and the Krem­lin — a probe which Mr Trump’s Repub­li­can al­lies have ef­fec­tively scup­pered thus far.


A voter casts his bal­lot iat the East Mid­wood Jewish Cen­ter in Brook­lyn, New York City, on Tues­day

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