Boteach, Rothman could face off in NJ primary

Jewish politicians in New Jersey are hoping for a strong showing in Tuesday’s congressional election.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Rabbi Shmuley Boteach)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Rabbi Shmuley Boteach)
WASHINGTON – Jewish politicians in New Jersey are hoping for a strong showing in Tuesday’s primary.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, famous for penning books including Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy and once serving as an adviser to Michael Jackson, is making a serious bid for a Republican congressional nomination, albeit in a district that favors Democrats.
Still, Boteach, who is also a Jerusalem Post columnist, has the help of some powerful backers. In the last donation cycle, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, maxed out their personal contribution limit to his campaign at $10,000, according to federal election filings.
The self-described “Jewish values” candidate has also benefitted from $5,000 from US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a fellow Jewish Republican from Virginia.
Boteach, if he prevails, could face a Jewish competitor in November – incumbent Congressman Steve Rothman.
Rothman, however, has to fend off another incumbent representative, Bill Pascrell, to make it to the general election after redistricting forced Rothman into a competitive race.
Rothman, who serves on both the House foreign operations appropriations subcommittee and the defense appropriations subcommittee, has been a leading force behind increased aid to Israel’s missile defense programs in recent years.
Rothman has raised more money than Pascrell but polls have shown them neck-and-neck. Pascrell received a high-profile endorsement from former president Bill Clinton last week, widely understood to be connected to the candidate’s decision to back Hillary Clinton for president in 2008.
But Rothman, who supported Barack Obama in that campaign, received a boost from the president on the same day. Hours before the Clinton event, Obama hosted Rothman in the White House, a visit that attracted press attention back in the congressman’s home state. Rothman had been the only New Jersey representative to back Obama over Clinton.
Two Jewish Democratic incumbents are also squaring off in California, where redistricting similarly caused long-time members and allies to compete with one another.
Rep. Howard Berman, the House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member, and Rep. Brad Sherman, the ranking member of the subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade, had a history of working together on issues including support for Israel and sanctions on Iran before the new district lines turned them into adversaries.
Polls have shown that the two men lead the candidate field, and new California voting procedures mean that should they finish one-two they will face each other on the ballot in November despite being from the same party.