On The Stump
Jewish candidates vie for seats in pivotal congressional elections.
Wellstone championed, making him an attractive can-
didate for many Jewish voters.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
• In New Jersey, a former Jewish senator is hoping
to rejoin the Senate. Democrat Frank Lautenberg,
who retired from his Senate seat in 2000, could win
our Jewish candidates are vying for seats in
the New Jersey seat vacated by Sen. Robert Torricelli,
the U.S. Senate, 35 for seats in the House
also a Democrat. Torricelli quit the race following
of Representatives and two for seats in their
charges of ethics violations.
state's governor's mansion in the Nov. 5
With more than 450,000 Jews in-the state, the
Jewish turnout could have some influence.
It's an average year, as the number of Jewish candi-
The outcome of the New Jersey and Minnesota
dates goes, but the political landscape appears any-
races will also determine whether the Senate retains a
thing but typical.
minyan of 10 Jews. Only one current Jewish senator,
Control of both the U.S. Senate
Carl Levin, D-Mich., is up for re-election — in a race
and the House are at stake on Nov. 5.
he is expected to win. A fourth Jewish candidate, Alan
And the outcome of the election
Blinken of Idaho, is not expected to win against the
could affect everything from legisla-
Republican incumbent, Sen. Larry Craig.
tive priorities to who controls power-
The eight other incumbent Jewish senators who will
ful congressional committees to how
serve in the 108th Congress are: Barbara Boxer, D-
much the Bush administration will
Calif., Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., Dianne Feinstein,
drive the agenda.
D-Calif., Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., Joseph Lieberman, D-
With a staggering economy, a war
Conn., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Arlen Specter, R-
with Iraq brewing and the Israeli-
and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Palestinian conflict still embroiling
• In New Hampshire, the race for the Senate pits
the Middle East, the leadership and
Gov. Jean Shaheen against Rep. John Sununu.
approach of Congress is significant. In
Shaheen has garnered some Jewish financial support,
addition to Jewish candidates, with
mostly to block Sununu. Sununu, who is of
Jewish turnout at the polls often dis-
Palestinian and Lebanese background, has come under
proportionately high, the Jewish vote
fire for supporting U.S. aid to the
could prove pivotal in several races.
Palestinian Authority, though he also
And how Jews cast their votes will be
has voted for U.S. aid to Israel and
watched with great interest, not only
has returned campaign contributions
by the candidates themselves, but by
from Arab leaders who backed the
those who believe that Jews are grow- Mondale:
ing closer to the Republican Party.
Controlling the terrorist group Hamas.
At least $25,000 from pro-Israel
"There will be overwhelming
political action committees has gone
Jewish support for Democratic candi-
dates, despite the predictions of Jews
going to vote Republican," said Mark Mellman, a
In the U.S. House of
Mellman did note certain cases of moderate
Representatives, some of the most
Republicans who might garner "better than average"
interesting congressional races
amounts of support from the Jewish community, but
already played out in the primaries.
whose Democratic opponents would still likely get the
Reps. Earl Hilliard, D-Ala., and
majority of Jewish votes. He cited such examples as
Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., both
Republican governors George Pataki of New York and
considered anti-Israel figures, lost
Jeb Bush of Florida, and Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md.
their primaries after Jews spent hun-
Key races around the country include:
dreds of thousands of dollars to sup-
• In Minnesota, the Senate race with two Jewish
port their challengers.
candidates came to an abrupt halt with the death last
week of Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was Jewish (see
makers are not returning to Capitol Hill for various
obituary, page 150). Wellstone had been locked in an
reasons — including retirement or the decision to run
extremely tight race against a Jewish Republican,
for other office — thereby raising Jewish hopes that
the 108th Congress will be one of the most pro-Israel
Coleman, who like Wellstone, has received financial
congresses in years.
and political support within the Jewish community,
Some House races of note:
could face even stiffer competition now from Walter
• In the new 9th District in Michigan, 10-year
Mondale, the former senator and vice president, who
Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills, is
will -replace Wellstone on the ballot. Mondale would
challenge from Jewish attorney. David
be expected to take on many of the liberal issues that
SHARON SAM B ER
Fink, D-Birmingham, in a well-financed race on
both sides. Knollenberg has said Fink, who declared
his candidacy more than a year ago and who has
been highly visible in the community, is his most
formidable challenger yet.
• The 13th District in Florida, where a Jewish
Democrat, Jan Schneider, is running against
Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris in a
new district in Florida. Harris received national
attention during the 2000 presidential election for
her role in the post-election chaos. Schneider is an
attorney and author of international environmental
• In California's 27th District, Democratic incum-
bent Brad Sherman is pitted against Republican
challenger Robert Levy, a family law attorney and
past president of his synagogue's men's club, in the
only "Jew vs. Jew" race in the House.
• Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., is likely to be the only
Jewish Republican to serve in the next U.S. House,
since Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., is retiring,
unless Levy pulls an upset in California.
• Two Jews involved in their local Jewish commu-
nities are running on Democratic tickets in two new
districts in the South. Harry Jacobs, an attorney and
past president of the Orlando Jewish federation, is
running as a Democrat in Florida's 24th District;
and Roger Kahn, a businessman active in Atlanta's
Jewish community, is running in Georgia's 11th
District. Kahn is believed to have a better shot than
Jacobs at winning.
When the campaign season began, it looked like it
could be the year for Jewish governors, with seven
candidates. Now, the number of Jewish candidates is
down to two, but both Democrat Ed Rendell in
Pennsylvania and Republican Linda Lingle in
Hawaii are thought to have very good chances of
If Rendell and Lingle prevail, they would be the
first Jewish governors since 1994, when Bruce
Sundlun served as governor of Rhode Island.
Lingle would become only the second Jewish
woman to serve as governor. Madeleine Kunin was
Vermont's governor from 1985 to 1991.
The Jewish vote, meanwhile, could be important
in the New York race for governor, where Democrat
H. Carl McCall is running against Pataki. In
California, Gov. Gray Davis, who received 84 per-
cent of the Jewish vote last time, remains in good
stead with California's Jews while he fights off a
challenge from Republican Bill Simon.
In Florida, Jeb Bush had planned to have Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his side for a rally
earlier in the campaign, but the event was canceled.
Nevertheless, reminding voters of his brother's solid
standing on Israel could help Bush in his race
against Democrat Bill McBride. ❑