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October 28, 1988 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-10-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1

ELECTIONS

88

The Jewish Senator

Continued from preceding page

Jew, has mounted an effective
challenge to Republican incumbent
Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Although
Lieberman is considered the under-
dog, polls show a fairly close race that
could be significantly affected by the
turnout for the presidential contest.
Oddly, Weicker is a liberal
Republican and Lieberman a conser-
vative Democrat. Throughout the
campaign, Lieberman has taken more
conservative positions than his GOP
opponent, a stance that has won him
considerable Republican support —
but hurt him among some Democrats.
And Connecticut remains a
strongly Democratic state, making it

According to standard
PAC doctrine, moderately
good relations with a
powerful incumbent are
infinitely more valuable
than good relations with a
Jewish freshman.

likely that Weicker will benefit more
from crossover votes than Lieberman.
All of this puts Jewish voters in
a quandary. Weicker enjoys con-
siderable support from the Jewish
community because of his last-stand
liberalism and his reasonable record
on Israel. On the other hand, the pro-
spect of an Orthodox Jew in that
senate seat has a definite appeal.
Pro-Israel PACs see things dif-
ferently. Weicker, as an incumbent
who has been supportive of the pro-
Israel agenda, has received the lion's
share of PAC dollars. In fact, Weicker
is currently one of the biggest reci-
pients — another example of the
pragmatic approach to incumbency
that is almost an article of faith
among PACs.
NEVADA: Chic Hecht, the conser-
vative Republican incumbent, is trail-
ing his Democratic challenger, Gov.
Richard Bryan. In this case, the pro-
Israel PACs have shunned a Jewish
incumbent in favor of a non-Jewish
challenger.
Hecht has always posed some-
thing of a problem for Jewish
activists. A protege of Sen. Jesse
Helms (R-NC), Hecht frequently has
taken positions that infuriate Jewish
activists in Washington. Hecht sup-
ported President Reagan's trip to the
Bitburg, West Germany cemetery
where S.S. soldiers were buried, and
opposed the "yarmulke" amendment.

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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1988

He also was an early opponent of the
implementing legislation for the
Genocide Convention.
In July, in a highly unusual move,
nine senators signed a letter to more
than 75 pro-Israel political action
committees urging support for Bryan.
The letter was signed by such pro-
Israel heavyweights as Sens. Carl
Levin, Allen Cranston, Howard
Metzenbaum, Daniel Inouye, Joseph
Biden, George Mitchell, Edward Ken-
nedy, and Daniel Moynihan.
And in a Fund for Freedom eval-
uation of candidates up for re-election
in 1988, a survey of 13 issues judged
especially important to the Jewish
community listed Hecht at the bot-
tom of the ranking.
Hecht's reputation for verbally
shooting himself in the foot won't
help. The Wall Street Journal recently
carried a front page story on Hecht
headlined "A Barrel of Gaffes!'
MISSISSIPPI: Pro-Israel activists
are keeping a close eye on the tight
battle to replace the retiring John
Stennis. Rep. Wayne Dowdy, the
Democratic contender, is generally
seen as strongly pro-Israel; his oppo-
nent, Rep. Trent Lott, is seen in far
less favorable terms.
MINNESOTA: Pro-Israel PACs
have become a minor issue in Min-
nesota, where Attorney General
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey, son of

Most pro-Israel lobbyists disagree;
Durenberger has been a friend to
Israel, they say, and his incumbency
is worth more than Humphrey's
potential.
CALIFORNIA: The race is com-
plex as Sen. Pete Wilson, a Repub-
lican, is facing a strong challenge
from Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy in what
is expected to be the most expensive
Senate race in history.
So far, the Jewish community has
given good support to Wilson, who
has been a strong advocate of the U.S.-
Israeli strategic relationship. Despite
his status as a Republican, Wilson
generally has stood by the pro-Israel
community on questions of arms sales
to Arab countries.
But Leo McCarthy is a popular
and attractive candidate. And his can-
didacy has implications for what some
people are calling the "Los Angeles
Jewish machine?' This strong Jewish
presence on the Democratic side has
resulted in the election of a signifi-
cant number of Jewish congressmen
and may, next year, produce a Jewish
candidate for mayor of the giant city.
A strong McCarthy showing may be
a crucial factor in this group's in-
fluence in the State Assembly, as
well.
The overwhelming factor in most
of these races — and the one nobody
is willing to predict yet — is the out-
come of the presidential race. In most
of the tight races, a strong showing by
either George Bush or Michael
Dukakis could provide the margin of
victory for their respective senatorial
standard bearers.

The House

New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg

the former vice president, is chipping
away at a strong lead held by the in-
cumbent, Republican Sen. David
Durenberger.
The race has been marked by
grumbling from the Humphrey forces.
Pro-Israel PACs, they say, have given
a disproportionate amount of money
to Durenberger — despite what they
claim are Humphrey's superior posi-
tions on Middle East issues.

On the House side, the pre-
eminent fact is that incumbency is
better than money in the bank. Barr-
ing a flood tide of surprises on elec-
tion day, fully 98 percent of the
incumbents running for re-election
will be successful.
Of the Jewish members of the
House, none are considered par-
ticularly vulnerable, although two —
Howard Wolpe (D-Mich.), and Sam
Gejdenson (D-Conn.) — always face
difficult re-election battles.
Gejdenson is something of a curio-
sity in today's politics — an unabash-
ed, old-fashioned liberal who tends to
stake out independent positions. On
occasion, he has earned the ire of the
pro-Israel establishment, and there
are whispers that groups like AIPAC
would not be particularly bothered by
a Gejdenson loss.
But working in his favor is
Gejdenson's feistiness. "This man is
a terrific politician!' said one observer

of the political scene in Washington.
"It's always wrong to count him out!"
Another Jewish congressman who
has locked horns with the pro-Israel
community is Rep. Dan Glickman (D-
Kans.). Several years ago, Glickman
was contemplating a run for the
senate against Sen. Robert Dole, the
Republican leader. According to per-
sistent reports, Glickman was visited

4

Ohio's Howard Metzenbaum

by several top pro-Israel activists who
warned him that his candidacy would
not win the moral or financial back-
ing of the pro-Israel community.
PACs traditionally show a bias
towards incumbents. According to
standard PAC doctrine, moderately
good relations with a powerful incum-
bent are infinitely more valuable
than good relations with a Jewish
freshman.
; There is another curious sidelight
to Glickman's campaign. Glickman
came to the House 12 years ago after
a campaign that criticized his
predecessor's lengthy tenure on the
Hill. At the time, Glickman promised
to serve no more than 12 years.
Now, he has apparently decided
that his initial assessment was
wrong. Many Jewish activists who
remember Glickman's long and hard
work on the "yarmulke amendment"
hope that he's right.
Jewish activists see several oppor-
tunities for strengthening the pro-
Israel agenda in the congressional
elections.
In New York, Elliot Engel, a New
York state assemblyman who is
Jewish, is expected to have no trou-
ble in his race to replace Mario
Biaggi. Engel, like Gejdenson, is an
unrepentant liberal with close ties to
the New York Jewish establishment.

.

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