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December 05, 2003 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-05

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

This Week

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Taking first primary role seriously, New Hampshire
Jews are leaning toward Dean.

MATTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Manchester, N.H.
n an empty room where a small
party for the New Hampshire
Civil Liberties Union is about
to be held, 72-year-old Hilda
Fleisher's remarks stand out.
When asked why she is supporting
Howard Dean, the former Vermont
governor, "I just sorta oozed into it,"
she says.
Fleisher, a lawyer and art
collector, did not choose to
support Dean because he
spent a night at her house,
although he did. "He cleaned
the bathroom," Fleisher
recalls. "He made his bed."
The reason she chose
Dean, the front-runner in
Dean
New Hampshire polls, is
because she thinks he can
defeat President George W. Bush next
year, and that's her top priority.
Tough words from a former
Republican.
While the Jewish community of
New Hampshire makes up propor-
tionately one of the largest Jewish fac-
tions of registered Republicans in the
country, they tend to vote Democratic
in national races.
There are a large number of Jews
who, like Fleisher, are frustrated with
President Bush and are seeking new
leadership. People in this state under-
stand the influence they have over the
national agenda by hosting the coun-
try's first primary, Jan. 27.
Many are undecided, uninterested
in the nine Democratic hopefuls who
make frequent stops at their schools,
synagogues, shopping centers and
neighbors' homes, even as they
express a strong desire to replace
Bush.
The only Democratic candidate
who seems to have sparked any inter':
est among New Hampshire Jews is
Dean. -
According to the latest state polls,
conducted last month by the
American Research Group, Dean has
38 percent support in New
Hampshire, with Sen. John Kerry (D-
Mass.) second with 17 percent. No

I

other candidate breaks double digits.
Twenty-one percent were undecided.
Local Jews say they do not vote as a
bloc. Numbering 10,000, less than 1
percent of the state's population of
1.2 million, they are committed to
their role as voters in the nation's first
primary.
For many, the first step will be
changing their party affiliation.
David Stahl, a Manchester political
observer active in the Jewish commu-
nity, says Jews in New
Hampshire traditionally
have registered as
Republicans in order to have
greater influence on elec-
tions for state and national
offices.
"Obviously, Jews have
always tried to be close to
seats of power," says Stahl.
"The voting habits are large-
ly Democratic, the registra-
tions are largely Republican."
Stahl, 77, changed his registration
last month to independent so he
could participate in the Democratic
primary.
Still, there are Republicans who
intend to stick with their party. Mark
Gilman, president of the Jewish
Federation of Greater Manchester,
sees more young New Hampshire
Jews embracing the Republican Party
and Bush's stance on Israel.
He said younger, more conservative
Jews may be less known to the com-
munity because they are likely trans-
plants who came to New Hampshire
because of the growth of the technol-
ogy industry. Many are unaffiliated
and may have intermarried.
Gilman said Jewish Democrats
backing candidates either are ambiva-
lent on Israel or believe their candi-
date will take a more pro-Israel stand
later on in the campaign season.
But not all Israel supporters are vot-
ing Republican. In Hanover, home of
Dartmouth University, leaders of the
Dartmouth Israel Public Awareness
Committee are working to register
students to elect a Democratic nomi-
nee who is pro-Israel. They will hold
a voter registration drive Jan. 7 so that
students from other states can become
New Hampshire citizens and vote. ❑

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12/ 5

2003

33

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