Jewish candidates abound in US midterm elections

Northern Exposure: Dozens of Jewish politicians running for Senate, House and state governorships, some in most unexpected of places.

By RONEN SHNIDMAN
November 1, 2010 20:20
3 minute read.
Eric Cantor

Eric Cantor. (photo credit: Courtesy: United States Congress)

Tuesday's US midterm elections propose to present a disproportionately large number of Jewish candidates for high office, some of them in quite unexpected places.

Several already well-known political names in important races are California Senator Barbara Boxer (D), running for re-election in a close race with former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, and  former Connecticut state attorney-general Richard Blumenthal who has maintained a slight lead against Linda McMahon of WWE wrestling fame for the state's open Senate seat. Blumenthal has managed to maintain a single-digit lead, despite a minor scandal over exaggerated claims of Vietnam War service, in no small part due to Connecticut women's discomfort with McMahon's close ties with a sport known for violence and a significant element of misogyny

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In an election year with much of the American media discussing the large amounts of anonymous private and corporate donations being used to influence election campaigns, perhaps it should be no surprise to see Russ Feingold, the veteran democratic senator and advocate of campaign finance reform from Wisconsin, has fallen behind his Republican challenger Ron Johnson in pre-election day polls.

One of a small but growing number of Jewish Republican candidates, Virginia Representative and House Whip Eric Cantor is expected to receive much support from his constituents in the Richmond suburbs and parts of the Shenandoah Valley and to easily win re-election to his seat.

The 2010 elections, will also see some Jewish candidates seeking to capture their state's highest office in places not considered home to any established Jewish vote.

The most interesting candidacy can perhaps be said to be Alaskan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ethan A. Berkowitz.

A former representative in the statehouse from1997-2006 and state house minority leader from 1999-2006, 48-year-old Berkowitz can perhaps be described as Alaska's anti-Palin. The Harvard, Cambridge University and Hastings College of Law educated politician, formerly ran against Palin and current governor and Republican opponent Sean Parnell as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2006 election that put Palin in Alaska's highest office.  In fact, Berkowitz, announced his intention to challenge Palin for the governorship already in May 2009 before the latter resigned from office in favor of then Lt. Governor Sean Parnell to pursue a career as a media commentator.





During a year in which many Americans have expressed outrage with both parties in Washington and political insiders, Maine's Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler is currently second in statewide polls, behind Republican candidate Paul LaPage but ahead of the Democratic candidate with 26.5 percent of expected votes according to an average of several recent polls calculated by realclearpolitics.com. Cutler seeks to emulate the success of another senior Jewish New England politician independent democratic socialist Vermont senator Bernie Sanders (not running in the 2010 election). The Maine politician's campaign has highlighted Cutler's story of his maternal grandfather who came to Maine as an itinerant peddler who barely spoke any English.

Maine's gubernatorial race took an interesting turn when, according to The Portland Press Herald, LaPage criticized Cutler's proposal for the creation of a state office to monitor state agencies' regulatory work as similar to the "Gestapo."

All told, by The Jerusalem Post's count, at least eight Jews are running for seats in the US Senate, 23 for the House and two for state governorships.

Whatever the elections outcome, Capitol Hill Hannuka parties next year are sure to see some new and old faces in the crowd.


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