It’s difficult to quantify whether Jews are in line to hold any sort of a record number of top positions in the Obama administration or the next Congress, but it’s clear that a large number of Jews stand to serve in key positions.
Among the latest is U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman.
The California Democrat dethroned Michigan’s John Dingell to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel has jurisdiction over critical areas including potential legislation setting pollution standards, health care and energy policy.
Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia will be the No. 2 Republican leader in the House, where Reps. Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman Schultz saw their stocks go up after their campaign efforts on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama in Florida.
In addition to Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff, Ron Klain will play the same role for Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod will serve as a senior advisor to the president.
Penny Pritzker, the Hyatt hotel heiress, was supposedly in line to head the Commerce Department, but The Washington Post says she’s unlikely to take the job. Politico quotes unnamed officials saying she took herself out of the running because of concerns that past business dealings would pose confirmation problems.
Pritzker was named one of the top picks on this year’s Forward 50 list.
Another name being thrown around for a possible administration posts include Larry Summers at Treasury.
Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, is said to be running for House GOP whip position.
Politico reports that Cantor is making calls to line up support from colleagues for the position, which is the second highest Republican leadership
So far it looks like the number of Jews in Congress may grow by one to three seats.
We’ll update these results on Wednesday
In New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, Democrat John Adler has been projected the winner over Republican Chris Myers in a squeeker. With 93 percent of precincts reported, Adler trailed 142,477 votes to 144,218 but was projected the winner.
Update Here’s the report from the Newark Star-Ledger.
Democrat Jared Polis leads Republican Scott Starin 59 percent to 36 percent with 39 percent of precincts in Colorado’s 2nd District reporting.
Nathan Berkowitz trails Republican incumbent Don Young 51.6 percent to 44.1 with 45 percent of precincts reporting for Alaska’s Congressional seat.
Update Young won 51.7 percent to 44 percent, according to unofficial results. The Minnesota Senate contest between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken remains close with Coleman narrowly leading 1,138,466 votes to 1,137,254 votes and both candidates at 42 percent with 94 percent of precincts reporting. The outcome may remain in limbo if a close race triggers an automatic recount.
Update The Associated Press is reporting Coleman the winner this morning. The latest numbers are Coleman with 1,210,790 votes to 1,210,028 for Franken.
Another Update AP has now uncalled the race. This one may take a while to sort out.
Franken is not conceding.
His campaign just issued the following statement:
“The Secretary of State’s office reports that all but nine of Minnesota’s 4,130 precincts have reported in. And this race is too close to call, with a margin of just about 1100 votes out of 2.9 million cast. That’s four one-hundredths of one percent of the vote. And we expect that when those final nine precincts are counted this morning, that 1100-vote margin will shrink into the hundreds.”
“Under Minnesota state law, we will now enter into an automatic statewide canvass and recount. It will be the first one since 1962, when I was 11 years old. I remember that year very clearly for two reasons. The recount between Elmer L. Anderson and Karl Rolvaag. And the Gophers were in the Rose Bowl that year.”
“And we have twice as many ballots to count this time.”
“Let me be clear: Our goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”
“The process, dictated by our laws, will be orderly, fair, and will take place within a matter of days. We won’t know for a little while who won this race, but at the end of the day, we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard.”
“There is reason to believe that the recount could change the vote tallies significantly.”
“Our office and the Obama campaign have received reports of irregularities at various precincts around the state. For instance, some polling places in Minneapolis ran out of registration materials. Our team has been working on those issues for several hours already, and they will continue to do so this morning as the recount process begins.”
“Let me be clear: This race is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won. We are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome.”
“This has been a long campaign, and it’s going to be a little longer before we have a winner. Senator Coleman, Senator Barkley, and I have done a lot of talking. Minnesotans have waited a long time to have THEIR say. And thanks to our state’s laws, we will eventually understand precisely what they have said.”
Keep reading for other Jewish results of interest:
Dennis Shulman, the blind psychologist rabbi running for Congress in New Jersey, picked up a high-profile endorsement this morning from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I’m impressed by his pragmatic, sensible approach to the tough issues, including how we strengthen the economy and how we keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Bloomberg said in a statement. “We need more leaders in Congress willing to reach across the aisle and focus on problem solving, not ideology.”
Shulman, a Democrat, is challenging Republican Congressman Scott Garrett in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District.
Bloomberg blamed ideology for too often blocking progress on critical issues.
You can listen to Bloomberg’s conference call
The Gray Lady threw it’s support behind Dennis Shulman, the blind rabbi and psychologist challenging incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey’s 5th District.
New ratings from the Cook Political Report reflect improved chances for a couple of Jewish challengers in tough congressional races.
The non-partisan group changed the contest between incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Rogers and Democrat Josh Segall in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District to likely Republican from solid Republican.
Likewise, Florida’s 18th Congressional District seat held by incumbent Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been downgraded from solid Republican to likely Republican. One recent poll showed Jewish Latina businesswoman Annette Taddeo trailing by 7 percent.
Neither incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Kirk or Democratic challenger Dan Seals is Jewish, but Illinois’ 10th Congressional District has garnered attention because of its large Jewish population. That race is now rated a toss up.
Buoyed by their cash advantage, national polling favoring Democratic candidates as well as local issues, congressional Democrats have upgraded several races including those of a blind rabbi in New Jersey and a 29-year-old Jewish lawyer in Alabama.
Dennis Shulman, a psychologist-turned-rabbi-turned-candidate, and Josh Segall, the founder of “Homegrown Alabama,” which encourages schools to purchase food from local farmers, are among eight candidates added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program.
Red to Blue races represent the districts held by Republicans that the DCCC believes may be winnable.
The designation often means that the DCCC will invest its own cash in the races. But it can also a signal to outside groups and donors which races are considered priorities to put their money.
Shulman is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., and Segall is challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.
“Our grassroots campaign for change has been growing so rapidly in Northern New Jersey, and we welcome the additional support,” Shulman said in a statement.
Segall, in a statement, said he was “proud to have such strong national support…(that) will help us continue to get our message out.”
““With less than 21 days” to make their case to voters, DCCC Chairman Chris Vam Hollen of Maryland said the Red to Blue support will provide the challengers “the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November.”
We’ll update this post with reaction from Segall as well.
Congressman Mark Kirk’s pollster is calling a poll commissioned by the liberal Daily Kos blog flawed.
The poll of the district with a large bloc of Jewish voters north of Chicago showed Kirk, A Republican, leading Democrat Dan Seals 44 percent to 38 percent among 400 voters surveyed. The poll had a 5 percent margin of error.
McLaughlin & Associates argues the poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional District by Research 2000 over-sampled voters age 18-29, Democrats and Independents, while under-sampling Republicans. The poll was also conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 1, which included Rosh Hashanah, when observant Jews would not take part. McLaughlin claims this hurt Kirk, but Kos claims Seals’ support would have been even stronger had those voters been sampled.
Here’s the memo:
Executive Summary: The ultra left-wing Web site Daily Kos commissioned a poll by Research 2000, which was conducted in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District from 9/30-10/1. The survey was flawed on three levels. First, the survey over-sampled voters age 18-29 while under-sampling voters 60+. Second, the survey over-sampled Democrats and Independents while under-sampling Republicans. Third, the survey was intentionally conducted on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah that would exclude observant Jewish Democratic voters who lean more toward Kirk than average Democrats.
Skewed Age Sample: According to the database of actual registered voters, only 16 percent of voters are aged 18-29, while 30 percent are over age 60. The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 19 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18-29 and only 18 percent of voters over age 60. Mark Kirk has always done better among older voters. Skewing the poll by age skews it toward Seals.
Faulty Party Sample: Over more than two years of polling, our surveys found on average that the 10th District breaks down as follows: 34% Republican, 34% Democrat and 32% Independent. The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 35% Democrats, 36% Independent and only 29% Republicans. Surveying more Democrats and less Republicans will obviously create an artificially closer race. In the 8 years that we have polled for Mark Kirk, we have never had Republicans among likely voters to be less than 33%.
Excluding Kirk-Leaning Jewish Voters: It is no surprise that DailyKos, which has come under attack by Democrats like Harold Ford Jr. and Lanny Davis for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic content, chose to conduct its poll on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah. The 10th District is almost 20 percent Jewish – one of the larger Jewish districts in the nation. In addition to being disrespectful, the poll excluded observant Jewish voters who tend to vote for Mark Kirk more than average Democrats. In our last survey, Kirk did 25 percent better among Jewish voters than a typical Republican. By having fewer older voters, fewer Republicans and fewer ticket-splitting Jewish voters, DailyKos made sure the Democratic quota broke more for Dan Seals to give him an extra boost. And even with their biases, Mark Kirk still is leading.
Responding to McLaughlin & Associates’ analysis, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said that assertions that the site was anti-Semitic and the poll results biased .were completely unfounded. “It’s ridiculous that we would time a poll to exclude Jewish voters. If we we’d want to cook this poll we’d over-sample Jews” because they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, he Moulitsas told the Forward.
“To take that next step and say that we’re anti-Semitic and polling on certain days to hurt Republican is absolutely absurd,” he said.
From the reaction, it’s obvious that Kirk’s campaign is feeling the heat, he added. “Nobody reacts this way to a poll that says they are winning,” Moulitsas said.
While Daily Kos commissioned the poll, Moulitsas maintained the polling firm, which is also used by some independent newspapers for polling, conducted the survey unfettered by the blog. He publishes the results regardless of the outcome. “We’ve run polls that show Democrats getting blown out of the water,” he said. Daily Kos also publishes the complete poll results so readers can review all the underlying data themselves.
Steve Sheffey, a Seals supporter and former president of CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Chicago, also took issue with McLaughlin’s interpretation.
He called it unfair to label Daily Kos anti-Semitic because of the posts of a few individuals on the site that’s an open forum, where anybody can post his or her thoughts. Similarly, it would be unfair to label all Republicans or all Democrats as anti-Semitic because of the comments of a few individuals, he said.
Retribution was swift for U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman after the Connecticut Indepedent/Democrat’s speech supporting John McCain and criticizing Barack Obama at last week’s Republican National Convention.
Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call [Registration required] reports that he’s no longer welcome at the Democrats’ weekly lunches and biweekly lunches of committee chairman.
Speculation remains on what will happen to Lieberman’s chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.
At least for now, Democrats need his vote now to remain in the majority. But with Democrats expected to pick up seats in the November elections that may not be the case for long.
UPDATE: Lieberman tells The Hill: “I think it’s probably wise for me and for my colleagues in the Democratic caucus to dine somewhere else for the next few weeks.”