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Tonight’s Congressional Races to Watch
Along with the presidential race, we’re paying attention to congressional contests of Jewish interest and with Jewish candidates. Below are some of the races we will be watching tonight.
.Jewish candidates are denoted by asterisks next to their names.
Hawaii -- Mazie Hirono (D) vs. Linda Lingle* (R)
Republicans were hoping that Hawaii’s Jewish former governor, Linda Lingle, could pick up the open Senate seat in President Obama’s birth state, but Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono has held commanding leads in the polls.
Nevada -- Shelley Berkley* (D) vs. Dean Heller (R)
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), a pro-Israel stalwart with strong union ties, is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who has held modest leads in the polls.
Ohio -- Sherrod Brown (D) vs. Josh Mandel* (R)
In the country’s top presidential battleground, Republicans state Treasurer Josh Mandel, a youthful former Marine and Iraq War vet, is trying to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown, a favorite of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing who has held modest leads in the polls.
Wisconsin – Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Tommy Thompson (R)
Iran has an issue in the closely fought race for Wisconsin’s Senate seat. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican, has attacked his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, for her past votes against Iran sanctions legislation, calling her “anti-Israel.” Baldwin, who would be the first openly gay person elected to the Senate if she wins, says she is pro-Israel and touts her more recent support for sanctions legislation.
U.S. House of Representatives:
California, 30th District -- Howard Berman* (D) vs. Brad Sherman* (D)
Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman have been locked in a bitter redistricting-induced brawl in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. At a recent debate, the two Jewish congressmen even got into a brief physical confrontation that became viral video fodder. Berman, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking member, enjoys the support of leading elected officials, fellow members of Congress and Hollywood machers. But Sherman has shown strength with the district’s voters, handily beating Berman in the open primary that advanced the two veteran pro-Israel Democrats to their general election battle.
Florida, 22nd District -- Lois Frankel* (D) vs. Adam Hasner* (R)
Democrat Lois Frankel, a former mayor of West Palm Beach, is facing off against Republican Adam Hasner, a former majority leader in the state’s House of Representatives, for the South Florida seat that had been represented by Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West, who decided to run in a nearby district after his current one was redrawn. The district is seen as leaning Democratic, but polls suggest a tight race between the two Jewish pols.
Illinois, 10th District – Robert Dold (R) vs. Brad Schneider* (D)
Democrat Brad Schneider, who has long been active in Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, is challenging first-term Rep. Robert Dold, a moderate Republican, in this suburban Chicago district that became more Democratic after redistricting. Dold is stressing his moderation on social issues and support of Israel. Schneider -- who has long been active in American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Chicago’s Jewish federation and the American Jewish Committee – has been attacked by Republicans for expressing support for the dovish Israel group J Street.
New Jersey, 9th District -- Bill Pascrell (D) vs. Shmuley Boteach* (R)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has mounted a lively, long-shot bid to unseat incumbent Rep. Bill Pascrell in this heavily Democratic northern New Jersey district with sizable Jewish and Arab populations. Boteach, who bills himself as “America’s rabbi” and writes books with such titles as “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Jesus,” has tried to paint Pascrell not only as insufficiently pro-Israel but also as insufficiently supportive of Arab aspirations for freedom.
New York, 1st District -- Tim Bishop (D) vs. Randy Altschuler* (R)
Republican Randy Altschuler is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, who narrowly beat him in 2010 in the western Long Island district. The race is considered very tight, and Altschuler may be Republicans best chance to add a second Jewish member to their congressional caucus alongside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Other House races of note with Jewish contenders:
California, 47th District -- Alan Lowenthal* (D) vs. Gary DeLong (R)
Alan Lowenthal, a Democratic state senator, is favored to win in this new congressional district spanning parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Florida, 9th District -- Alan Grayson* (D) vs. Todd Long (R)
Former Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat, is a verbally combative liberal who was defeated in 2010 and looks set to return to Congress in a strongly Democratic Orlando-area district. A debate with his opponent degenerated into name-calling, and the Orlando Sentinel pointedly declined to endorse either of them.
New Jersey, 3rd District -- Jon Runyan (R) vs. Shelley Adler* (D)
Democrat Shelley Adler has an uphill against incumbent Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican and former pro football player who in 2010 unseated her now late husband, John Adler.
Rhode Island, 1st District -- David Cicilline* (D) vs. Brendan Doherty (R)
First-term Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat, is in a tough fight to hold on in a solidly Democratic district after embarrassing revelations about severe budget problems in Providence, where he had previously served as mayor.
BONUS MAYORAL RACE: U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, a Jewish Democrat, is in a tough race for mayor of San Diego, Calif.