Jewish Vote Not Enough for Democrats

Representative-Elect Lee Zeldin (R NY-1)

Representative-Elect Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1).

Republicans took control of the Senate and tightened their control over the House of Representatives on election day despite that Democrats still maintained the support of a large majority of the Jewish community.

65% of Jewish voters voted for the Democratic candidate for Congress, while 33% voted for the Republican and 2% voted for a third-party or independent candidate. In all, Jews represented 3% of the electorate even though they only represent 2% of the general population.

With the defeat of Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Republican primary last June, it appeared that no Jewish Republicans would be on Capital Hill by now. However, Lee Zeldin was elected to succeed Democratic congressman Tim Bishop and represent New York’s 1st congressional district (Eastern Long Island) as the one Jewish Republican in the 114th U.S. Congress.

Another Republican Attempt to Use Iran for Political Gain


Congress can take action against any Iran deal with or without Senator Bob Corker’s amendment.

— by Steve Sheffey

The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), enjoys broad bipartisan support and was on its way to an easy passage.

But last week, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) indicated that he would introduce an amendment requiring Congressional hearings and a vote on a non-binding “joint resolution of disapproval” on any Iran nuclear deal reached by the Obama administration.

This is not a bipartisan effort: Corker does not have a Democratic co-sponsor. This is another Republican attempt to manipulate legitimate concerns about Iran for political gain.

Almost everyone supports the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. Why not let it pass with strong bipartisan support and vote separately on a bill to authorize a joint resolution of disapproval?

Corker wants all or nothing. He is willing to put the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act at risk to gain a talking point Republicans can use against Democrats who oppose his amendment.

More after the jump.
Boxer pulled the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act from consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to avoid a vote on the Iran amendment. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) also opposes voting on Corker’s Iran amendment.

Corker’s amendment is unnecessary: Congress does and should have a role in the process. But Corker’s amendment does not give Congress any authority to block a deal with Iran; it just creates an opportunity for more grandstanding. As Boxer pointed out, Congress can take action against any deal with or without Corker’s amendment.

Some in Congress want a deal with Iran that is so airtight, so perfect, that it would be impossible to achieve. They do not seem to realize that the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiations table will not by themselves stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The alternative to diplomacy is not more sanctions — although more sanctions will surely be the first response if diplomacy fails — but either war or containment.

That is not to say that opponents of the interim deal process want war: They do not. They sincerely believe that merciless sanctions will stop Iran, even though Iran’s nuclear program had accelerated as sanctions increased, but has slowed down significantly since the interim agreement was put in place and a limited sanctions relief was granted.

The Obama administration’s position is that we need to give diplomacy a chance because:

  • Diplomacy might work (although President Obama, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton all give it a chance of less than 50% to succeed).
  • The case for even tougher sanctions, and if necessary, military action, will be much stronger. We will be much more likely to maintain the international coalition, that is essential if we are to have any chance of success, if we first try diplomacy and thereby convince the world that there really is no alternative to more sanctions or military action.

Obama has been clear that diplomacy might not work, and has been equally clear that we will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, repeatedly stating that no option, including the military one, is off the table. He has boxed himself in: He cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons without his presidency being judged a failure by his own standard.

If nevertheless you do not think that Obama will use military force, even if it will be the only way to stop Iran, then you should support diplomacy and oppose congressional initiatives that would complicate diplomatic efforts and make it harder for diplomacy to succeed. If diplomacy does not succeed, military action will be the only option left.

Now is not the time for Congress to upset the apple cart. There is no reason that Corker’s amendment needs to be voted on now — as opposed to later in the process — other than to create an election-year issue for the Republicans.

Senators Boxer and Menendez are good friends of the pro-Israel community. We should commend them for refusing to play Corker’s game.

Remember to Vote in the Primary Election

Pennsylvania’s primary election day is Tuesday, May 20, and the polls will be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

You understand the importance of turnout if you have seen the “ground game” that candidates run in elections these days.  

The vote that is assured, including people tied to the government and other reliable votes, are “pulled” by a team working for a particular candidate. Independents, and centrists in general, are not urged to come out. And so when turnout drops too low, a lazy electorate can result in an unwanted result.

According to statistics assembled in the election project at the George Mason University, only about 40% of Pennsylvanians eligible to vote came out for the gubernatorial general election in 2010. The turnout in primaries is usually even lower; in 2012, only 20% of the electorate bothered to vote in the primary.

For a representative government to be truly representative, we all need to vote and to get others to vote.

Information on absentee ballots and the most important races after the jump.

Absentee Ballots

If you cannot be at the polls on election day, you may vote absentee ballot.

The completed application form must be received by your county’s election board by 5 p.m. on May 13; having it postmarked by May 13 does not count. In addition, only an original of your completed application can be submitted; do not submit a copy of your form.

For example, people in Montgomery County can mail their applications to: Election Board, Montgomery County Court House, P.O. Box 311, Norristown, PA 19404-0311.

To file in person or through UPS or FedEx, the address would be: Election Board, One Montgomery Plaza, Suite 602, 425 Swede Street, Norristown, PA 19401.

Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the same office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 16. If the ballot is to be delivered by hand, then it may only be returned by the actual voter. And again, having a completed ballot postmarked by May 16 does not count.

People serving in the military can also vote through absentee ballot. However, different deadlines apply.

Also, certain people may qualify for emergency absentee ballots before or even after May 13.

Among the many contests, four important races to be decided have created real excitement.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is seeking a second term. Seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose him in the Fall general election are four candidates:

  • State Treasurer Rob McCord;
  • Kathleen McGinty, previously state environmental protection secretary;
  • Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz; and
  • Tom Wolfe, previously state revenue secretary.  

Also running are Paul Glover for the Green Party, and Ken Krawchuk for the Libertarian Party.

In the race to be the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 13th District, former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies is battling State Sen. Daylin Leach, State Rep. Brendan Boyle and medical professor Valerie Arkoosh.

Lining up to oppose incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick in the 8th District are two Democrats: publisher Shaughnessy Naughton, and Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran Kevin Strouse.

Long-time Democratic State Senator LeAnna Washington represents the 4th District, spanning portions of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Challengers in this race are nonprofit social services officer Brian Gralnick, and Cheltenham Township Commissioner Art Haywood. The race is considered competitive because the incumbent is under indictment for misuse of public funds and staff.

Other congressional races will be decided, along with local races for state legislature that add to the interest and importance of this primary.  

Jewish Population by Congressional District

Joshua Comenetz has broken down the American Jewish population by Congressional district.

Here are the local numbers:

District Representative Jews %
PA1 Robert Brady (D) 17,000 2.41%
PA2 Chaka Fattah (D) 36,000 5.10%
PA6 Jim Gerlach (R) 19,000 2.69%
PA7 Pat Meehan 36,000 5.10%
PA8 Mike Fitzpatrick (R) 44,000 6.24%
PA13 Allyson Schwartz (D) 63,000 8.93%
NJ1 Robert Andrews (D) 35,000 4.78%
DE John C. Carney, Jr. 15,100 1.68%

The estimate of the Jewish population in all Congressional Districts is 6,735,830, approximately 2.18% of the total U.S. population. This estimate is consistent with the 6.7 million Jewish persons reported in the 2013 Pew Research Center Portrait of Jewish Americans….

The American Jewish population is simultaneously more densely clustered geographically than the overall American population and very geographically diverse — at least a few Jews live in every one of the 436 CDs. Half of all American Jews live in just 37 CDs, and 93 CDs contain three-quarters of all Jews. In contrast, the 266 districts with the fewest Jews collectively have only 10% of the Jewish population. The most-Jewish district, New York’s 10th, has as many Jews (197,000) as the 170 least-Jewish CDs combined.

There are 13 CDs with 100,000 or more Jews, nine in New York and two each in California and Florida — the three states with the highest total Jewish populations. In general, the most-Jewish CDs are in the northeastern states, California, Florida, and a few other large urban areas such as Chicago and Atlanta. The least-Jewish CDs are mostly in the rural parts of southern states.

Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District has the most Jews in the state and is ranked 24th nationally while the 3rd, 5th and 9th District have only 1000 Jews.

Where is the Jewish vote the most decisive?

There are 27 Congressional Districts in which the Jewish population exceeded the margin of victory in the 2012 Congressional election. Heading the list is:

  • Illinois’ 10th Congressional District whose 76,500 Jews (10.73% of the population) is about 23 times the 3,326 vote margin by which Democratic challenger Brad Schneider defeated Republican incumbent Robert Dold.
  • Florida’s 32th Congressional District whose 32,000 Jews (4.60% of the population) is about 17 times the 1,904 vote margin by which Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy defeated Republican incumbent Allen West.
  • New York’s 11th Congressional District whose 129,000 Jews (17.97% of the population) is about 12 times the 10,688 vote margin by which Republican incumbent Michael Grimm defeated Democratic challenger Mark Murphy.

Runners up are NY-9 (6.95x), AZ-2 (6.93x), MA-6 (6.12x), NY-18 (5.19x), CA-52 (5.08x), NY-3 (3.45x), CT-5 (3.35x), CO-6 (3.29x), UT-4 (3.26x), CA-26 (3.03x), NY-1 (2.95x), FL-22 (2.73x), NY-6 (2.03x) and IL-13 (2.00x).

Jewish Goups Call Congress to Authorize Military Action in Syria


People killed by a chemical attack in Ghouta last month.

Before Rosh Hashanah, Jewish groups expressed support for President Obama’s plan for a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged Congress to authorize the action.

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:

B’nai B’rith International supports President Barack Obama’s call for Congressional authorization of military action in response to the Syrian government’s use of nerve gas against civilians last month.

The United States has a moral obligation to enforce a global norm against using chemical weapons. It is in the national security interest of the United States to prevent the use and spread of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction by Syria, Iran or terrorist organizations that are surely monitoring the situation. A U.S. military response would send a clear message that no one can engage in this depraved activity.

We urge bipartisan Congressional authorization for the White House proposal, sending a message that the immoral use of these chemical weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated.

More after the jump.
Marc Stanley, National Jewish Democratic Council chair, stated:

We need to be clear about what is at stake here. This is not about choosing sides in Syria’s civil war or starting a war with Syria. This is about deterring the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again. The US should send a message to the world that the use of these horrible weapons is unacceptable and that the consequences of using weapons of mass destruction will always outweigh any perceived benefit.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Chair Larry gold said:

For over two years now, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has proven himself unfit to rule his country, choosing to meet political protest and armed resistance with the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians. Now, with persuasive evidence that he has used large amounts of sarin gas in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), other international treaties and basic human decency, Assad himself has invited retaliation. The President’s plan is a clear message that we will no longer watch on the sidelines as civilians are gassed.

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow added:

The use of force is never arrived at lightly. But given Assad’s indifference to the worldwide consensus that chemical weapons are too barbaric to use even against combatants, let alone civilians, he must face the consequences. We support President Obama’s decision to launch a targeted and limited military response. It will communicate to Assad and any others tempted to use or acquire weapons of mass destruction that the United States stands by our warnings and our values. The Congress should act quickly to authorize the action. We also strongly urge the United States and international community to enhance humanitarian aid to the millions of refugees fleeing Assad’s reign of terror.

A group of prominent American rabbis and Jewish leaders from the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative denominations of Judaism petitioned Congress last Tuesday. Evoking memories of the Holocaust, the rabbis stated that Congressional approval would deter enablers of atrocity and save thousands of lives.

Signatories to the petition included Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Yosef Blau, a rabbinic leader of Yeshiva University; prominent Jewish history professor Jonathan Sarna; popular Conservative leader Rabbi David Wolpe; lecturer and author Rabbi Joseph Telushkin; Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America; and Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, who founded the Jewish social justice group Uri L’Tzedek.

“Regardless of politics or denomination, the Jewish community has an instinctive response when we see that hundreds of children have been gassed to death,” said Yanklowitz. “That response is one of sympathy and a desire to protect the innocent. That response is in our DNA.”

The full text of the petition is included below:

Dear Congressional Leaders,

We write you as descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees, whose ancestors were gassed to death in concentration camps. We write you as a people who have faced persecution for many centuries, and are glad to have found a safe refuge where we can thrive in the United States. We write as a people proud of our religious and historical tradition of helping the needy and defending the weak.

The recent chemical weapons attacks on the Damascus suburbs constitute a serious crime against humanity. These attacks killed upwards of 1400 people, the majority of them innocent women and children. As a people who themselves once faced the horrors of genocide and survived, we had hoped that we would never again open our newspapers to images of mass graves filled with suffocated young children. Now that we have seen such images coming from Syria, we call upon you to act.

Intelligence assessments from the U.S., U.K. France, Israel, Turkey, the Arab League, and many other allies all show conclusively that the Assad regime was responsible for the horrific chemical attacks of August 21st. We fear that if this attack passes without a decisive response, we might open our newspapers to more images of mass graves from Syria – and elsewhere — in the near future. We have learned from our own history that inaction and silence are the greatest enablers of human atrocity.

For this reason, we call upon you with great urgency to authorize the President to use force in Syria “in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,” as outlined in his August 31st draft legislation. Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save thousands of lives.

These are the Days of Awe for the Jewish people. In one of the climactic moments of our High Holiday prayers, we read “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, who will pass and who will be created, who will live and who will die, who in his time and who before his time.” May this coming year be one of life and creation the world over, in which we cease to witness the deaths of so many innocent human beings.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, Founder & President, Uri L’Tzedek

Leon Wieseltier

Rabbi Avi Weiss, President-Emeritus, YCT Rabbinical School (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah)

Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University

Professor Jonathan Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

Rabbi David Wolpe, Senior Rabbi, Sinai Temple

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President- Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (KJ)

Shlomo Bolts

Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, RCA (Rabbinical Council of America)

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Rabbi Jason Herman, Director, IRF (International Rabbinic Fellowship)

Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Senior Fellow, Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, writer, Temple Beth Am, Bayonne, NJ

Rabbi Dr. Yehudah Mirsky

Rabbi Barry Dolinger

Rabbi Andy Koren

Rabbi Richard A. Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Reform Movement Leader Shows Support of Stricter Gun Laws

In advance of the interfaith day of advocacy around gun control today, The Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Congress to pass stricter gun laws.

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

Nearly four decades ago, in 1975, the Union for Reform Judaism recognized the need for legislation that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms. Since the adoption of that resolution, the URJ’s first calling for the regulation of firearms, more than one million Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. The URJ has spoken out repeatedly and passionately on gun violence and continues to insist that gun regulation is a vital necessity.

Continued after the jump.
As president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the membership organization for nearly 900 Reform synagogues and 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America, I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors and urge you to support the comprehensive gun violence prevention package before Congress (S.649 / H.R. 137), which not only will require enforceable background checks, but also will curb gun trafficking and enhance school safety, making America safer while keeping the Second Amendment secure. Congress also must ensure that the bill is enforceable by requiring private sellers who sell crime guns to produce a background check — just as dealers are required to do. There’s no question that the two minutes it takes to pass a background check is a wise investment in saving lives.

I ask, too, that you support the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines (S.150 / H.R. 437), which will ban these weapons of war that have no place in our schools or on our streets. These weapons — frequently used in police killings and mass shootings — dramatically increase the number of lives lost and the damage done.

Jewish tradition mandates tikkun olam, “repair of our fractured world” — and this country’s background check system is broken indeed. This flawed system, which does not require “private sellers” to conduct background checks, easily puts weapons in the hands of the vast majority of gun criminals. It is time to fix this broken system with passage of S.649 / H.R. 137, which will extend the current background check requirements to private gun sales, with dealers conducting the checks and keeping records the same way they have done for more than 40 years. Passage of these bills is the single most meaningful step you can take to stop senseless violence, honor all who have been lost to gun violence, and bring solace to survivors. On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism and its members across North America, I urge you to support these critical pieces of legislation.

Just as the prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of the earth to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” so too do I urge you to vote for comprehensive and enforceable background checks and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As elected officials, it is your moral imperative to work to solve society’s problems. This is holy work and we are counting on you to do it, helping to shape a better and more hopeful world for us all. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Rick Jacobs

Women’s Leadership Network Letter: Take Action Now on VAWA

— by Ann F. Lewis and Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Reports are circulating that the House of Representatives will be voting on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as early as tomorrow. VAWA provides crucial protections to victims of domestic violence and there is no excuse for not reauthorizing this important bill.

Since it was first introduced in 1994 by then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), VAWA had been repeatedly reauthorized with strong bipartisan support — until last year, when Republicans blocked reauthorization because it expanded protections to same sex couples, Native Americans living on tribal reservations, and undocumented immigrants.

When the Senate voted this year to reauthorize VAWA, it received more Republican “no” votes that it did last year — including from 22 male Republicans. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans have demonstrated that even protections from domestic violence are not exempted from their subservience to the right wing of their party.

Domestic violence is a sad reality for too many women — we cannot afford to let VAWA fail in the House!

As the co-founders of NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network, we urge you to take action now by calling your Representative and encouraging them to pass the Senate’s version of VAWA.

Too many women are counting on VAWA for us to be silent.

Immigration Reform Is In America’s Interest

— by Professor Matthew Hirsch

Immigration reform will be high on Congress’ agenda. After failing in 2007, comprehensive immigration reform is again in the public eye and opponents seem to be inching toward compromise.

Why this sudden turn into the winds of controversy? One, Republican leaders recognize that shifting demographics helped President Obama win re-election and they do not want to be the party of “no” on immigration. Two, both parties understand that Congress is viewed as a pit of petty partisanship and both believe that immigration reform could yield a bipartisan bill that could improve the legislature’s low standing and bring political gains.

And though these are good reasons for compromise on immigration, there are at least five other good reasons for supporting reform, including legalization of undocumented immigrants.

More after the jump.

  • Today’s system contributes to illegal immigration. Americans don’t realize that it takes years for a green card holder to bring a spouse or child to the U.S. As a result, some separated families ignore the law by entering illegally or by overstaying. Similarly, it takes years for a U.S. employer to bring in workers “the right way.” Instead, faced with the demands of ripening fruit, unkempt hotels or uncut grass, employers hire the undocumented.
  • Legalizing the undocumented will reduce the deficit. Everyone complains that the undocumented don’t pay taxes. In fact, they contribute to revenues through sales, gas and “sin” taxes, lottery tickets and gambling, application and licensing fees and rents. And they commonly make Social Security contributions, often under mismatched Social Security numbers. (This means that they put into that system, but don’t take anything out — to the tune of $7 billion per year). Even so, legalizing the undocumented would mean billions in fines and in income and employment taxes.
  • Immigrants, whether legal or not, revitalize cities. Neighborhoods that had seen better days are seeing new life from waves of 21st century immigrants. Most new immigrants are thrifty and hardworking, and move quickly from renting to homeownership. Soon, neighborhoods will see new shops, groceries, and restaurants and catering to the tastes of their community. While the sounds and spices of these changing neighborhoods might roil some, without these new groups many neighborhoods would be left lifeless and impoverished.
  • Immigration restriction has high costs for many families. There are estimated 10 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Many have spouses and children who are citizens. Deporting them or driving them out hurts their families, pushing them toward dependency. With a wage earner in the household, these families have a chance at economic stability and mobility. Without one, the children are faced with the challenges of single-parent homes, lower incomes, more reliance on government support and higher risk of falling prey to drugs, gangs and teen pregnancy.
  • Economics favor legalizing the undocumented. With estimated costs of deportation exceeding $200 billion, no one thinks it is possible to deport the undocumented. Self-deportation — increasing pressure through restrictions — is self-defeating. Just ask the people in cities that passed tough laws to drive out illegal immigrants. In short, most of the undocumented are here to stay. In contrast, while the undocumented do impose costs in such areas as law enforcement, medical care and education, on balance the economic impact would be favorable, by some estimates adding $1.5 trillion to the nation’s economy over the next decade.

These are just some of the reasons to support an immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship. Other aspects are less controversial. Yes, we want to secure the border against threats and we want to promote respect for the law. But we also want to create an immigration system that helps America be stronger, more vital and more competitive.

At the top end, we want to attract and retain the best and brightest and not erect barriers that discourage them from staying in America. We need immigration laws that recognize the demands of our economy in such areas as hospitality, health care and agriculture. We need immigration laws that unite families and do not force eligible immigrants to wait a decade or longer to come legally to America.

For some Americans, immigration feels like a threat – to culture, to jobs, to ways of life. Ultimately, it will be up to our lawmakers in both parties to look beyond politics and to summon the courage to enact a reform, which is in America’s national interest.

Matthew I. Hirsch, an immigration attorney in suburban Philadelphia, is a former immigration trial attorney with the federal government. He is an adjunct professor of immigration law at Widener University School of Law and serves on the board of the American Immigration Council.

New Jewish Faces on Capitol Hill in 2013

PM Netanyahu Meets with Senator Daniel Inouye— by David A. Harris

Now that the 113th Congress has been sworn-in, we thought you would be interested in learning a little bit about the newest members from our community who are bringing their Jewish values to Capitol Hill.

Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) with a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem
(September 2, 2012). Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

More after the jump.

  • Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz was appointed to the U.S. Senate following the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) — a pro-Israel giant and true friend of the American Jewish community. Notably, Senator Schatz was sworn into the Senate with a Tanakh, and his entrance into the Senate brings the total of Jewish partisan Democrats to 10 — the number required for a minyan. (Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an eleventh Jewish senator who caucuses with the Democrats, is an Independent.)
  • Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) is a former Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida and she successfully fought a tough campaign against a formidable opponent. Frankel is very familiar with the issues that concern her constituents, including protecting the social safety net and support for Israel.
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL), who was defeated following his first term in 2010, is beginning the second chapter of his congressional career in the 113th Congress. Grayson is an outspoken advocate for many of the issues of concern to American Jews, and his voice will be important in rallying the Democratic caucus.
  • Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) was a prominent voice in both the California Assembly and Senate, and believes in so many of the policies supported by the clear majority of our community.
  • Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) is a distinguished businessman and Jewish leader from Chicago who ousted incumbent Representative Robert Dold (R-IL). Schneider is an outspoken Israel supporter and is committed to protecting America’s middle class.

Wrapping Up 2012

 

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch.

The best year in review piece I've seen came from Dave Barry. You can read it here, and you really should. Where else could you see gems like this:

In labor news, Chicago teachers go on strike over controversial proposed contract changes that would allow the school board to terminate teachers who have passed away. Meanwhile, the NFL comes under increasing pressure to settle the referee strike following a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans in which the replacement refs call four balks and three traveling violations, and ultimately declare that the winner is the Green Bay Packers. At the end of the month the strike is settled, and the replacement refs move on to their new role as Florida elections officials.

 More after the jump.

We close the year with sad health news for two famous pols. George HW Bush is 88 years old, has Parkinson's, and breathing trouble. It doesn't look good for longevity. Hillary Clinton is at NY Presbyterian with a blood clot found after her fall-induced concussion. This is not her first blood clot. Shame on those right wing wacko pundits who claimed she was faking. We wish the best for Secretary Clinton.

The 112th Congress is ending. Tom Brokaw said it best yesterday on Meet the Press when he said that the real problem is that 75% of districts have been redistricted so that they're bulletproof. I hope that America wakes up to this, and changes the system by which we redistrict to non-partisan methods, and jungle primaries, so that we have a shot at a legitimate House. 

Aside from the House, it has been a good political year. This was the year that dark money failed, that liberals won the hearts, minds, and votes of a majority of Americans across the board. My personal goal for 2013 is to turn Pennsylvania blue at the local level, and position the state (block by block, town by town, county by county) to win back Harrisburg in 2014. Tall order for one as vertically challenged as myself, but I believe I'll have lots of help! And besides, there's this from some post on Facebook:

It's impossible, said pride.
It's risky, said experience.
It's pointless, said reason.
Give it a try, whispered the heart.

Happy coming 2013. The dream endures.