Eric Cantor is in for another two years of lighting the Republican congressional menorah on his own.
Randy Altschuler, who represented the last chance for getting another Jewish Republican elected, conceded Wednesday to incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.
It was the only House race still contested after the November elections and both sides were following each and every vote that was disputed and recounted. Coming out of election day, Bishop was announced winner with a 2,000-vote margin, but the next day election officials said the results in New York’s 1st District, on eastern Long Island, were mistaken and Altschuler had a small lead. What followed was a prolonged process of examining votes and absentee ballots, with each candidate acting as if he had already won. Bishop went to Congress to discuss his committee assignments for the next session and Altschuler attended the new congressmen’s orientation meeting.
It’s that time of year again, when Jewish politicos go latke-hopping from one Hanukkah event to another, making sure to be seen at the right menorah-lighting events.
And there are many to choose from in the nation’s capital.
First, naturally, comes President Obama’s Hanukkah reception at the White House. This is a tradition handed down from previous administrations which is traditionally a source of anxiety for Jewish insiders who have been checking their inbox for weeks to see if they’re on the list (and for organizers who face a significant amount of noodging from those wishing to get in).
Last year there was a lot of chatter about just how many people the Obamas invited to their reception and whether there were more or fewer than Bush used to invite (more, according to official accounts). This year, however, the White House has not released the numbers, but anxiety levels in the community seem lower, perhaps because most Jewish activists got their chance to get invited to the White House for either the Hanukkah reception or for the Jewish American Heritage Month event in May.
A proud and joyous freshman Class of 2010 made its way to Washington on Sunday for the traditional new congressmen orientation. They got to see the chambers, have their pictures taken and get a sense of the place that will be their temporary home, beginning January.
Among the newcomers was Randy Altschuler, the Jewish Republican who ran in New York’s 1st congressional district. The race in this district is not over yet and votes are still being counted, but Altschuler decided not to wait.
Race to Watch: Illinois congressional candidates Bob Dold and Dan Seals faced off in a debate Wednesday night, answering questions about Social Security and the economy, and taking jabs at each other the whole way through. Republican Dold criticized Democrat Seals for supporting tax increases and changing his stance on the Bush tax cuts. Seals retorted with an accusation that Dold did not pay payroll taxes for campaign workers. Dold pointed out that the campaign workers were independent contractors who pay their own taxes under federal law, adding “You’re an independent contractor, don’t you know you have to pay taxes on that?” (Daily Herald)
They Come In Threes: Incumbent Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, has a good track record when it comes to winning. She’s raised a lot of money, the South Florida demographics are in her favor and she usually wins with more than two-thirds of the vote. But that’s not stopping her opponents. Republican Karen Harrington criticizes Wasserman Schultz for wanting to prolong tax cuts to families earning less than $250,000 while increasing them for those making more. And two Jewish men – one socialist, one habitual candidate – have thrown their hats in the ring as well. (Sun Sentinel)
-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)