Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Rise of Jewish Republicans - GOP gains empower Cantor, not Schumer

(Marc Tracy-Tablet).Things went pretty much as expected: Sweeping Republican gains at the national and state levels—enough to win the House of Representatives (60-plus seats!), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) will become the second-highest ranking congressperson.

The Senate’s Jewish composition went mostly as Dan Klein predicted a week ago: A gain in Connecticut (Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the newest Jewish senator, defeated Republican Linda McMahon); a loss in Wisconsin (Republican Ron Johnson defeated Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold); holds in New York, California, and Oregon (Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, and Ron Wyden). In the competition to replace Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey beat Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, in a proxy war between the Emergency Committee for Israel and J Street. Though how big a role Israel played is debatable, it is indisputably a big, albeit close, victory for Republicans in a bellwether state (and mazel tov to Toomey’s press secretary, Nachama Soloveichik, whom Allison Hoffman profiled). However, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), who is of Jewish descent but does not identify with any religion (but does note that his mother was a Holocaust survivor), is too close to call in his bid for a come-from-behind victory over Republican challenger Ken Buck.

A final note on the Senate: While it was thought that Schumer had the inside line over Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) to lead the senior chamber’s Democratic caucus, that may change now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) pulled off an upset.

In the House, we now have a second Jewish Republican federal legislator: Meet future Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-New York), from upstate.