Mitz-Vote

Exit Harman: Congress to Lose a Jewish Centrist

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share

With nine-term Jewish congresswoman Jane Harman stepping down Congress is loosing a key pro-Israel voice and one of its leading Democratic centrists.

Harman’s close ties with the pro-Israel lobby made her a subject of a 2006 FBI wiretap in which she was allegedly asked by an Israeli agent to intervene on behalf of two former staffers of AIPAC who were facing espionage charges. The case was since dismissed and investigators made clear there was no suspicion relating to Harman.

In an e-mail to supporters, the California lawmaker said she was leaving Congress for a position as president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. She will replace former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who recently announced his resignation.

Harman explained in her e-mail that her centrist, bipartisan approach to politics would be an important asset in her new job at the Wilson Center. “I have always believed that the best solutions to tough problems require a bipartisan approach, and bipartisanship is the center’s ‘brand,’” she said in her message, quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “Serving at its helm provides unique opportunities to involve the House and Senate, top experts, and world leaders in ‘great debates’ about the most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters.”

Harman isn’t the first lawmaker to leave Capitol Hill in favor of a leadership position with a policy think tank. In 2010, Jewish Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida surprised observers by announcing that he would soon leave the Hill to become president of the Center for Middle East Peace.

Once Harman officially announces her retirement, California’s governor will call for special elections to fill the vacancy within four months. Her southern California district, the 36th, is considered to be solidly Democratic. The only significant challenge Harman ever faced was in 2010 from fellow Democrat Marcy Winograd, who blamed Harman for not being liberal enough and supporting the Iraq war. Buzz about potential candidates for the seat is only beginning to surface, since Harman’s resignation announcement came as a surprise to California Democrats today.

Her departure will further shrink the roster of Jewish members of Congress. The recent November elections led to the loss of six Jewish seats (Feingold in the Senate, Klein, Kagan, Adler and Grayson in the House, plus Hodes who left the House and lost his Senate bid.) Since then, Senator Joe Lieberman announced his plans not to seek re-election in 2012 — and now Harman is retiring too. That will leave the House with only 26 Jewish members, and the Senate Jewish representation could drop to 12 once Lieberman leaves in 2012.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jane Harman, Lee Hamilton, Marcy Winograd

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.