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May 26, 2014 By:
Jewish Candidates Fare Poorly in Local Races
Last week’s primary elections didn’t turn out so well for most of the Jewish candidates in the Philadelphia region.
In the two most prominent races — the Democratic primaries for both the 13th congressional district and governor — the Jewish contenders lost by considerable margins.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Northeast Philadelphia native who has forged strong ties to the Jewish community, won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district.
He defeated two Jewish candidates — State Sen. Daylin Leach and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies — as well as Valerie Arkoosh, a physician who served as president of a health care advocacy group, the National Physicians Alliance. Boyle captured 40 percent of the vote; Margolies, 27.4 percent; Leach, 16.7 percent; Arkoosh, 15.4 percent.
The Democratic nominee for the 13th District has gone to great lengths to prove himself a friend of the Jewish community. He has built support through actions like traveling to Israel last year on a trip sponsored by the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and proposing a bill in 2012 to make Holocaust education mandatory in Pennsylvania.
In the bid to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett in November’s general election, Tom Wolf overwhelmingly won the May 20 Democratic primary with close to 60 percent of the vote.
He defeated U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who currently represents the 13th District as Pennsylvania’s only Jewish and only female member of Congress, and state Treasurer Rob McCord, who calls himself a secular Jew, as well as former Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty, who is not Jewish.
Jewish candidates looking to unseat incumbents fared no better in state races.
Brian Gralnick, who had taken a leave of absence from his position at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, lost a Democratic primary for the state Senate. Public interest lawyer Art Haywood captured 40 percent of the vote in the 4th District. State Sen. LeAnna Washington, who has been charged with misusing as much as $100,000 in state funds to plan and promote annual campaign birthday fundraisers, received 34 percent while Gralnick received 27 percent.
Rep. Mark Cohen, the longest-serving state legislator in Pennsylvania, eked out a victory against fellow Jew Jared Solomon after a bitterly fought runup to the Democratic primary.
The 64-year-old incumbent faced a stiff challenge from the 35-year-old Solomon, a community activist who repeatedly criticized Cohen for abusing taxpayer-funded per diem reimbursements.
But Solomon ultimately lost to Cohen, who comes from a family with deep political ties in the Philadelphia area, by fewer than 200 votes out of the 4,000-plus ballots cast in the race.