Forward Thinking

Sheldon vs. Shelley: Inside Vegas' Ugly Jew v. Jew Tiff

By J.J. Goldberg

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Shelley Berkley

Politico’s Steve Friess has a fascinating story online today about the longstanding personal feud between two of Nevada’s “most prominent Jewish figures,” hotelier Sheldon Adelson and Rep. Shelley Berkley, who’s running for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican family-values guy John Ensign. It’s a gripping look at how Adelson operates — the intensity and relentlessness of his personal grudges, his obsessive hatred of unions and Democrats and the lengths to which he’s willing to go to get his way.

One twist that’s particularly intriguing: Berkley, one of the most hawkish pro-Israel Democrats in the House, would bring a rare across-the-aisle voice into the Senate for Adelson’s hard-line Middle East views. But that doesn’t seem to matter — Sheldon’s got it in for Shelley, and nothing else matters, including the causes he claims to hold dear. Here’s Friess:

The drama makes Jewish leaders especially heartsick. Adelson is among the biggest donors to Jewish and Israeli causes and Berkley has been one of the most hawkish Democratic supporters of Israel in the House. No less than Christian conservative Gary Bauer praised her by telling Tablet Magazine, “Oh, I like her a lot. I think she’s gutsy, she’s articulate, she has a lot of flair.”

Yet their schism on unions — and later on taxes, Obamacare and many other topics — has been insurmountable.

“The thing I find fascinating is they have the same foreign policy and it’s probably better to have a Democrat who’s like that in the Senate than another Republican,” said David Damore, political science professor at University of Nevada at Las Vegas.


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