Jewish lawmakers have increased their numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the GOP swept both houses of Congress.
The number of Jewish lawmakers has grown in the U.S. House of Representatives from 19 to 23 in the wake of the U.S. 2016 elections.
Five Jews overall were newly elected to the House, while one Jewish congressman in Florida is retiring. The Senate Jewish contingent dropped from nine to eight.
Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and a Microsoft executive, won a hard fought battle in New Jersey’s 5th district against Scott Garrett, a longtime Congressman who was exceptionally conservative for this northeastern district. The election was marred in its final days with the appearance of an unsigned anti-Semitic leaflet targeting Gottheimer.
In Illinois’s 10th district, encompassing Chicago’s northern suburbs, Brad Schneider, regained the seat he lost in 2014 from Bob Dold, in a back and forth that has lasted since Dold first won the seat in 2010, only to lose it to Schneider in 2012.
Picking up seats for Democrats were:
– Photo: Jacky Rosen, synagogue president and Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks to campaign volunteers in the Nevada Democrats’ field office in southwest Las Vegas on October 18, 2016.
Jacky Rosen, a software developer and synagogue president, won in Nevada’s 3rd district, covering Las Vegas’ suburbs. Joe Heck, the district’s incumbent Republican, ran to replace Democrat Harry Reid in the Senate, but lost.
Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state senator, won the battle to replace Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th district, which includes the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. Van Hollen, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate.
David Kustoff, a former US attorney, handily kept Tennessee’s 8th district Republican, replacing Stephen Fincher, who is retiring. He brings to two the Memphis Jewish delegation, joining Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing the state’s 9th district, and the Republican Jewish delegation to Congress, joining Lee Zeldin, who was reelected in New York’s 9th district, encompassing Long Island’s eastern reaches.
Republican Lee Zeldin Re-Elected in New York’s 1st District
Democrat Anna Throne-Holst loses to incumbent congressman. Zeldin led Throne-Holst, 59 percent to 41 percent with 46 percent of precincts reporting.
– Photo: Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin was re-elected to the House in New York’s 1st Congressional District.
New York’s 1st District covers the eastern two-thirds of Suffolk County on Long Island and collects small fishing villages, oceanfront vacation towns and affluent suburbs.
In 2014, Zeldin unseated Democratic Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, who had previously held the seat for 12 years.
Democrats were initially optimistic about defeating the GOP congressman as he didn’t shy away from Donald Trump and called President Barack Obama a racist in a local media interview. But Trump was more popular in the 1st District than his national numbers and made it difficult for Democrats to win.
As a first year representative, Zeldin serves on the Foreign Affairs, Transportation & Infrastructure the Veterans’ Affairs committees.
He previously served in the New York Senate from 2011 until his election to the House. He also served as an Army captain in Iraq for three months in 2006 and cites his time in the army as shaping his views on defeating the Islamic State.
Zeldin is a dependable GOP member, voting with the party majority 88 percent of the time in 2015. He is also the sole Republican Jewish member in the 114th Congress.
Former Navy SEAL becomes first Jewish governor of Missouri
Another Jewish Republican scoring a victory on Tuesday was Eric Greitens.
Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose military awards include the Bronze Star, has become the first Jewish governor of Missouri.
Greitens, a Republican, defeated Democrat Chris Koster with 51 percent of the vote on Tuesday to 45 percent for the state’s attorney general.
“Tonight, we did more than win an election; we restored power to the people and we took our state back!” Greitens told supporters at a hotel in Chesterfield, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Greitens, 42, grew up in the Maryland Heights suburb of St. Louis and attended the town’s Reform synagogue. He attended Duke University, where he become a Rhodes scholar.
After earning a degree at the University of Oxford, he joined the Navy SEALS and won seven military awards, including the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He later launched The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that offers veterans volunteer opportunities.
The Post-Dispatch reported that Greitens is likely to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state by decreasing the power of its unions. A key tenet of his campaign was promising to “clean up” corruption and “bad ethics” in Jefferson City, the state’s capital.
Leaving Congress is Alan Grayson, who retired as a representative in Florida’s 9th district, in the south of the state, to run for the Democratic nomination to the Senate – which he lost.
The Democratic contingent in the Senate will drop from nine to eight, with the retirement of Barbara Boxer of California. Two Jewish Democrats failed in their bids to replace Republican incumbents, in Missouri and Wisconsin.
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