LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - When she took the stage in the jammed ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood shortly after 11pm to claim her fourth term in the Senate, Barbara Boxer’s victory speech touched on issues foremost on her agenda: immigration, jobs and the economy, women’s rights, gay rights, and the plight of returning war veterans.
But as a close survivor of the tsunami of voter resentment against incumbent Democrats in Congress, Boxer made no mention of foreign policy or of issues facing Israel.
That may be instructive for the Jewish community as the mid-term election results shape the political scene for the next few years. Indeed, for Lucia Marano, an actress and business owner of Italian-Jewish descent who had joined Senator Boxer’s campaign in her first foray as a political campaign volunteer, the experience was personal and local. “Boxer speaks to me, to my concerns,” she said. Around her the crowd swayed to Cartaya’s Enclave, a Latin-Jazz combo playing “Oye Como Va,” and long lines of thirsty Democrats snaked toward the two cash bars. Her husband, Enrique Valdez, a Mexican-American entrepreneur, remarked on the diverse crowd in the room. “Asian, Black, Latinos,” he said. “You won’t find that with the Republicans.”
Vetting for 2012: With less than a week to go until midterms, it’s safe to say the 2012 presidential race is warming up. The Democratic National Committee has already approached the Pentagon to learn about potential Republican opponents—part of its early stage opposition research. According to ABC News, The DNC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Defense Department for any communications between military agencies and nine potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates: former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin; former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; South Dakota Senator John Thune; Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana; and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. (ABC News)
What’s the Matter With Florida? Jewish Democrats aren’t doing well in … South Florida? What’s up with that? It’s a sign of the times, the Forward’s Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman suggests. “Trailing in the polls is probably the only thing the two Jewish Floridians have in common.” (MitzVote)
Weekend Uptick: Happy Monday! New polls suggest that independents are leaning Republican this year, as the GOP now leads the generic ballot 47% to 42% — and scored 14 more percentage points among independent voters. (Politico)
And Now For Something Different: Simeon Kolko, a rabbi in Rochester, offers religious guidance for behavior this year’s “silly season” and beyond, outlining his Ten Commandments of Jewish political behavior. (MitzVote)
Counting on Labor: Two candidates included in our Races to Watch are the subjects of negative union-backed ad campaigns: Pat Toomey for Pennsylvania senate, and Mark Kirk for Illinois senate, Republicans both. In Pennsylvania, the union will announce $2 million in campaign efforts, including a push for voter turnout for Democrat Joe Sestak. In Illinois, a union PAC is running an ad against Kirk. (YouTube via Politico’s Morning Score
These Days, Is Anything Safe?: With three weeks left to this campaign season, it’s looking like seats considered safe by Democrats are getting risky: “As Republicans made new investments in at least 10 races across the country, including two Democratic seats here in eastern Ohio, Democratic leaders took steps to pull out of some races entirely or significantly cut their financial commitment in several districts that the party won in the last two election cycles,” the Times reports. (The New York Times)
In early September, MitzVote sent a questionnaire to candidates we wanted to learn more about. We’ve just received our answers from California Senator Barbara Boxer — the Democratic incumbent who is fighting Republican Carly Fiorina to defend her seat — via Boxer campaign research director Rosa Po. Here’s what Boxer had to say, word for word and hot off the … inbox.
(For the record: MitzVote still awaits Fiorina’s answers. Read more of our coverage on this race here.)
MitzVote: What is your position on each of the following?: Closing of Guantanamo bay and transfer of its remaining residents to a U.S. prison facility; warrantless wiretapping; the use on suspected terrorists of waterboarding and other treatments that were described by President Bush as “enhanced interrogation techniques” but which critics have labeled torture; prosecuting government officials or contractors who authorized or practiced these techniques.
Extremely Extreme: Florida’s 8th congressional district is home to one of the country’s more distinctive contests, as we’ve reported here: liberal Jewish Democrat Alan Grayson vying against conservative Christian Republican Daniel Webster. To Webster’s already solid conservative Christian bona fides — he works to restrict abortion, fought for the state to force-feed Terry Schiavo and homeschooled his own children — Alternet reports that Alan Grayson’s FL Republican Opponent Tied To “Biblical Stoning” Movement, AKA Christian Reconstructionism. The district already seems to be leaning Webster’s way, but maybe now he’ll capture the elusive biblical stoner vote as well.
Boxing Back: Despite the wide interest in Carly Fiorina’s challenge to longtime California Senator Barbara Boxer, polling throughout September consistently showed Boxer ahead. According to Real Clear Politics, though, it’s more a sign that Fiorina’s numbers are falling than that the incumbent is gaining more support.
-Less Competition in the Windy City: Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been eyeing a run for mayor of Chicago — the first Jewish one, at that. Yesterday, former city inspector David Hoffman, also Jewish, announced he isn’t running — a decision the Sun-Times expects will help Rahm’s candidacy. (Chicago Sun-Times)
-The Not So Wild West?: The San Francisco Chronicle is unimpressed with the race between Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer for U.S. Senate — so the paper isn’t endorsing either of them. Boxer, the Democratic incumbent, the editorial says, “has failed to distinguish herself” during her 18 years in the seat; and Republican challenger Fiorina “has an agenda that would undermine the nation’s need to move forward” on issues such as climate change, health care, and immigration. (San Francisco Chronicle)
-Post-Primary Preferences: For weeks, registered voters have stated their preference for Republicans on a generic congressional ballot. But a new Gallup poll shows the two major parties now effectively tied with Democrats winning 46% and Republicans 45%. (Gallup)
-Leveling California? Though other recent polls have given a slight lead to Republican Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive trying to unseat California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Public Policy Polling survey) of 630 likely voters puts Boxer eight points ahead. (Public Policy Polling)
-Eric Cantor, minority whip and congress’s only Jewish Republican, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Tax Fight: GOP Won’t Back Down.” He cites the economic struggles of “small businesses and investors” as a reason why he and the GOP won’t back down in opposing a continuation of federal tax cuts that would exempt those earning more than $250,000. (Wall Street Journal)
-The White House is gunning for a fight as it mulls over strategies to keep congress in Democratic hands, according to the New York Times. One potential strategy: national advertisements that cast the GOP as hijacked by Tea Party fanatics. (The West Wing told Politico the story is inaccurate). (New York Times)
Want some politics with your bagel and shmear?
Now that the last big primary night is over and election season is in full swing, we at the Forward bring you Mitz-Vote, a blog that covers all things Jewish and political. Forward Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman identified several key races that include Jewish candidates or where Jewish voters or issues are playing a major role.
Here’s an overview to the races you can read about in more depth along the right side of the MitzVote page:
-Golden State Gals: In California, Barbara Boxer, a Democratic U.S. senator, is trying to fend off her challenger: Republican Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who has been gaining ground in the polls as of late. Their campaigns have largely focused on domestic issues, but Fiorina’s recent trip to Israel was understood as an attempt to sharpen her foreign policy chops and make an impression on Jewish voters. Read about the California race, the candidates, and the issues here.
-Federal v. state experience in Ohio: Rob Portman, a former Bush official and U.S. Representative, is vying with Lee Fisher, the state’s Jewish lieutenant governor, for the seat of retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich. Portman now leads the polls. Read about the race here.
That’s what her aide told the L.A. Times before she left. But unless you’re, say, Madonna, personal trips generally don’t involve meetings with VIPs like Tzipi Livni, Shimon Peres, and Benjamin Netanyahu, right?
Fiorina, the Republican candidate facing incumbent Jewish Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer for a California U.S. Senate seat, traveled to Israel for four days. The trip was funded and organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition. She returned just as the Rasmussen Reports released a new poll that gave her 48% of the vote, putting her one percentage point ahead of Boxer.
What separates the personal from the political? “It’s personal—that means it’s not political,” answered Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the RJC, who helped organize Fiorina’s trip. He elaborated: “It’s not about her campaign or winning votes. It was not open to the press. There were no campaign activities or politicking. It was strictly an educational trip for her and her husband, and their opportunity to visit a city that’s important for them to visit.”