New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman’s defeat in the Democratic primary on June 5 has presented the state’s 9th district Jewish voters with a choice, between a non-Jewish Democrat and his rival, a Jewish Republican.
Democrats consider the district safe, meaning they do not feel it is in danger of falling into Republican hands and most Jewish residents of the newly-drawn 9th district, which includes Bergen, Passaic and parts of Hudson counties, are also seen as leaning heavily toward the Democratic side.
For them, Steve Rothman was an ideal candidate. One of the top players on the pro-Israel scene, a moderate in his views, and well known to his fellow Jewish constituents.
His rival, and now the Democratic candidate, Bill Pascrell has less of a track record with the Jewish community. He previously represented a district with a more significant Muslim population and had less contact with Jewish voters and activists.
Pascrell will be facing in November Rabbi Shmuli Boteach, the winner of the Republican primary. Boteach, who aims to be the first rabbi elected to Congress, is well known both within the Jewish community and outside. A rabbi to the stars who has broadened his reach to write about sex, family life, and Jesus Christ, Boteach is hoping to win over Jewish voters who might have voted for Rothman but are now wary about Pascrell.