November 2 Election a Chance to "Just Say No" to Congressional Israel-Firsters

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With the possibility that the Republicans may retake control of the House, which they lost in 2006–”two years before Barack Obama was elected president–”and possibly even the Senate, the upcoming Nov. 2 election is getting much more attention than the average congressional midterm. Despite the fact that much of the campaign is focused on domestic issues, certain races offer the opportunity for voters to make their voices heard on whether they want their representatives to put the interests of a foreign country ahead of their constituents’. Members of the Washington Report‘s Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame are indicated by color [1], with the names of 2010 candidates in bold. Close races where this choice is particularly clear are indicated by ♦♦♦

Alaska

 
Joe Miller, the Sarah Palin-endorsed candidate who upset Republican incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the state’s August primary, has raised $283,000 to Democrat Scott McAdams‘ $16,000 (see charts beginning on p. 33 for pro-Israel PAC contribution amounts). 

Arizona 

 
House District 3: The race for this open seat pits Republican Ben Quayle (son of the former vice president), who in a campaign ad called Barack Obama “the worst president ever,” against Democrat Jon Hulburd, who has been running ads on Christian radio stations attacking Quayle for posting to a salacious Web site, TheDirty.com. Hulburd’s stance on national security includes the statement, “Iran continues to pose a threat to both the United States and our important regional allies, including Israel, whose security and right to exist we need to firmly and unequivocally stand behind.” 

House District 8: Jewish Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords, who represents a traditionally Republican district, will face Iraq war veteran Jesse Kelly, who, according to Congressional Quarterly (CQ), “is a political newcomer with a thin résumé, but…[has] excited the GOP base and will have plenty of establishment support.” As of early August, however, Giffords had nearly $2 million cash on hand to Kelly’s $79,000. 

Arkansas

 
Senate: After eking out a victory in the Democratic primary, incumbent and Hall of Shamer Sen. Blanche Lincoln is being challenged by Republican Rep. John Boozman. While neither cast a positive vote according to the Washington Report’s “Report Card for the 111th Congress” (see Sept./Oct. 2010 issue, pp. 25-37), pro-Israel PAC money talks–”and it says that Lincoln has received a career total of $54,077 to Boozman’s $2,000. Nevertheless, her seat is considered vulnerable. 

California

 
Senate: The tight race between Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, running for her fourth Senate term, and former Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is viewed as a strong indicator of whether Republicans can regain control of the Senate. Her incumbency in itself makes Boxer the favored candidate of pro-Israel PACs, from whom she has received a career total of $267,044–”despite having voted in 2002 against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Fiorina, who spent $5 million of her own money on the Republican primary alone, “wants a share of the Jewish vote as well,” noted Globes, Israel’s Business Arena (www.globes.co.il). Its Aug. 20, 2010 edition quoted Fiorina as saying, “I want to renew my acquaintances with Israeli leaders, some of them I already know. I met Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and President [Shimon] Peres, and I know Ehud Barak. So if the schedule will permit I’ll [visit Israel and] meet them and convey directly to the people of Israel that they will not have a stronger friend in the U.S. Senate than me.” CQ rates the race a toss-up. 

House District 3: As of late August, Republican incumbent Dan Lungren–”who missed being a “Hall of Shame” member by only one vote, and cast no positive ones–”had raised less money ($1.2 million) than his Democratic challenger, Indian-American physician Dr. Ami Bera ($1.6 million). On his campaign Web site, www.beraforcongress.com, Bera, who has received small donations statewide as well as contributions from Indian Americans across the country, focuses primarily on domestic issues. “I’m not the candidate of Nancy Pelosi,” he told The Sacramento Bee. “If I thought the Democrats were doing the right job in this country with moving forward, I wouldn’t be running. I’d be back practicing medicine.” Nevertheless, he and fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer both seem to have an aversion to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): in mid-August, under strong pressure from the California Republican Party, Bera returned a $250 contribution from Basim Elkarra, the popular and respected executive director of CAIR’s Sacramento chapter. In December 2006 Senator Boxer rescinded a Certificate of Appreciation she had bestowed on Elkarra a mere six weeks earlier (see April 2007 Washington Report, p. 50). 

House District 11: Two-term Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney has a similar voting record to Lungren–”except he did manage to cast one positive vote in the 111th Congress. Like Lungren, he has raised less money ($1.7 million) than his challenger, Republican banking attorney David Harmer ($1.8 million). In 2006 Mc-Nerney was endorsed by former Republican Rep. Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, one of several members of Congress targeted by the Israel lobby for daring to speak out, who had unsuccessfully challenged then incumbent Richard Pombo in the 2006 Republican primary.  

House District 37: Democratic incumbent Laura Richardson, elected in a 2007 special election to fill the seat of the late Juanita Millender-McDonald, has been an opponent of the George W. Bush administration and the war on Iraq since 2003–”although she cast four negative votes and only one positive one according to our 2010 Congressional Report Card. She is being challenged by conservative author and syndicated columnist Star Parker, who has been endorsed by, among others, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Grover Norquist, Alan Keyes and Gov. Mike Huckabee. Perhaps because Richardson has been embroiled in controversy over her dealings with Washington Mutual Bank, which canceled the sale of a foreclosed home she owns in Sacramen – to–”the House Ethics Committee cleared her of charges on July 1–”the incumbent is only slightly ahead of Parker in fundraising ($370,000 to Parker’s $320,000). More ominously, as of early September Richardson’s re-election campaign Web site was “coming soon!” Also running is Independent candidate (and friend of the Washington Report) Nick Dibs, who has raised just over $2,000.  000

♦♦♦  House District 44: In 2008, Republican incumbent and Hall of Shamer Ken Calvert beat Corona-Norco Board of Education president Bill Hedrick by a slim 3-point margin–”despite having outspent his Democratic challenger by more than $950,000. Two years later Calvert again faces the progressive Demo – crat–”who supports a clear exit strategy from Afghanistan and U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, where his two sons and daughters-in-law have served a total of nine deployments. Hedrick recently received $5,000 from former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean’s PAC, and has been endorsed by, among others, CAIR-PAC, Peace Action West, the Sierra Club and numerous state and national labor unions. 

House District 45: Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack faces a well-funded challenger in Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, who has raised $1.3 million to Mack’s $1.7 million. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bono Mack and Dan Lungren (see House District 3) are “the Democrats’ top two targets” in the state, and Bono Mack has challenged her opponent to “denounce House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to condemn plans” for a Muslim community center in lower Manhatten. 

House District 47: Also according to the Times, “Republicans believe they have a shot at finally unseating” Democratic incumbent Loretta Sanchez, one of 54 House members to sign a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a lifting of Israel’s crippling siege of Gaza. However, Sanchez has almost $1 million more in the bank than her challenger, California Assemblyman Van Tran. 

House District 50: Democrat Francine P. Busby is making a third try to defeat current Rep. Brian Bilbray, who holds the House seat vacated by the now imprisoned Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Bilbray bested her in the 2006 special election following Cunningham’s resignation, and went on to win the 2006 and 2008 general elections. When she ran against him in the 2006 general election, Busby received $5,050 in pro-Israel PAC contributions. As of July 15, Bilbray had received none–”even though he cast no positive votes according to the 2010 Congressional Report Card. 

Colorado 

 
Senate: Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, appointed to fill the seat of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, faces Tea Party-backed Republican opponent Ken Buck, who defeated establishment candidate and former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the state’s Aug. 11 primary, despite having raised less than half her campaign funds. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), “Bennet’s mother is a Holocaust survivor, but he did not acknowledge his Jewishness until recently, raising Jewish representation in the U.S. Senate from 13 to 14.” The JTA described Bennet as “outspoken in [his] support for Israel and on isolating Iran.” CQ rates this race a toss-up. 

House District 4: Another race considered a toss-up is the one between Democratic incumbent Betsey Markey–”who has received a total of $12,100 in pro-Israel PAC contributions since first being elected in 2008–”and her Republican challenger, state legislator Cory Gardner. Gardner has raised a record amount for a challenger in this moderately Republican district–” but Markey has raised nearly $1 million more than Gardner. 

Connecticut 

 
Senate: Running to fill the open Senate seat of retiring Chris Dodd, Connecticut’s Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will face multimillionaire Republican candidate Linda McMahon, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO. According to JTA, “If Blumenthal succeeds the retiring Chris Dodd, also a Democrat, he will join Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in making Connecticut’s U.S. Senate representation all Jewish.”

♦♦♦  House District 4: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, as one of the 54 signers of the House letter on Gaza, was one of the first targets of attack ads by the recently formed Emergency Committee for Israel. William Kristol and his neocon buddies obviously prefer Republican challenger Dan Debicella, who has criticized Himes’ stance on Israel. On his campaign Web site Debicella describes his support for Israel as “unequivocal,” and promises to “speak strongly and clearly for our allies in Israel.” Despite the fact that as of June 30 Himes had $1.9 million cash on hand to Debicella’s $492,000, the race made CNN’s list of the top 100 most vulnerable congressional seats. 

Delaware 

 
Senate: A special election will be held Nov. 2 to fill the seat of Sen. Ted Kaufman. Appointed when then-Sen. Joe Biden became vice president, Kaufman had announced he would not be a candidate to complete Biden’s term, which expires in 2014. Although former governor and moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle, who had raised $3 million in campaign funds–”including $5,500 from pro-Israel PACS–”had been favored to win over Democratic county executive Chris Coons, who has raised $1.35 million, Castle was knocked out of the running in the Sept. 14 primary by Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell, who received no support from the Republican Party. A post-primary poll showed that Castle supporters were likely to vote for Coons in November. 

Florida 

 
Senate: Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek will face two opponents for this open seat: former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is endorsed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Florida Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, among others; and Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who decided to run as an Independent after falling behind Rubio in the polls. Meek has raised slightly less than $7 million, compared to Crist’s $12.5 million and Rubio’s $12.8 million. Crist, whose endorsers include Senate Minority Leader Mitch Mc-Connell and Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl–”but not, apparently, pro-Israel PACs–”appears to be losing support, with Rubio ahead in the polls, but CQ rates the race a toss-up. 

House District 8: The JTA describes Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, one of only two Florida House members (the other being Rep. Alcee Hastings) to cast a positive vote according to our 2010 Congressional Report Card, as a Jewish member of Congress whose seat is vulnerable–” not only because “his Orlando-area district is seen as naturally Republican,” but because he “has become a lead Democratic bomb-thrower, calling Republicans ‘Neanderthals,’ describing the GOP health care plan as ‘dying quickly’ and calling the health care crisis a ‘holocaust'”–”for which he later expressed regret. Grayson, who has raised $3.7 million in campaign funds, will face another former Florida House speaker, Daniel Webster ($313,653)–” named a “Young Gun” running against a vulnerable Democrat by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)–”and Tea Party candidate Peg Dunmire ($43,569). 

House District 22: According to the JTA, incumbent Democratic Rep. and Hall of Shamer Ron Klein is seen “as likely to retain his South Florida seat, which he wrested from years of GOP control in 2006. In 2008 he defeated his current opponent, Allen West, by 8.5 percentage points. However, West–”a retired Army lieutenant colonel seen as one of the GOP’s best chances to reintroduce a black Republican into Congress–”has hammered Klein in this heavily Jewish district by going after President Obama over his recent tensions with Israel over settlements. It might help Klein that he is one of the more hard-line Democrats in Congress when it comes to Israel, and has distanced himself from Obama’s Israel policies.” West, however, has raised $4 million to Klein’s $2.5 million. Heads you win, tails I lose. 

Georgia 

 
House District 2: Blue Dog Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop, one of only four of 36 Congressional Black Caucus members who voted for the 2002 joint resolution authorizing the Iraq war, will face Tea Party-endorsed state Rep. and Baptist preacher Mike Keown, who easily won the Republican primary. Keown has raised $370,000 to Bishop’s $670,000. 

Illinois

 
♦♦♦  Senate: Pro-Israel PACs protégé Republican Rep. Mark Kirk makes no bones about describing himself as a “pro- Israel champion.” Among the efforts on behalf of a foreign government–”and at the expense of American taxpayers–”of which he boasts is the fact that “Earlier last year, Kirk helped reverse the administration’s cuts to Israel’s Arrow-3 upper tier missile defense system–”securing full funding for the program to continue.” It’s no wonder he’s received more pro-Israel PAC contributions than any other congressional candidate this year–”including embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Kirk’s Democratic opponent for President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat is Greek-American banker Alexander Giannoulias, who has raised $5.7 million to Kirk’s $9 million. Nevertheless the race is considered a toss-up, with an August poll giving each candidate 40 percent of the vote. 

House District 9: Jewish incumbent Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky is being challenged by Republican co-religionist Joel Pollack, who charges that Schakowsky is not sufficiently pro-Israel. His evidence? That Schakowsky has been endorsed by J Street, the “pro-Israel, propeace” lobby, and that reporter Helen Thomas, former dean of the White House Press Corps, headlined a Schakowsky fund-raiser just weeks before she resigned. Pollak’s credentials include backing by Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz, the Israel attack dog and former member of O.J. Simpson’s defense team. Even though Dershowitz raised $30,000 at a fund-raiser for his former “research” assistant, however (in response to which J Street raised $35,000 in an online fundraiser for Schakowsky), it appears the professor may not be putting his own money where his mouth is: Pollak has raised $221,119 to the incumbent’s $1.2 million. 

House District 10: Running for Mark Kirk’s now open House seat, Democratic African-American businessman (and former intern for Sen. Joseph Lieberman) Dan Seals is running ahead in the polls against Republican fellow businessman Robert Dold. Alas, it’s another case of being more pro-Israel than thou, with Dold accusing Seals of being insufficiently pro- Israel and anti-Iraq, and Seals vigorously denying the charges. Dold is slightly behind in fund-raising as well, with $1.5 million to Seals’ $1.7 million. Pro-Israel PACs are sitting on this electoral fence, having given $500 to Dold and none to Seals. 

Indiana 

 
Senate: Vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Evan Bayh are fellow Democrat Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who did not cast a single positive vote according to our 2010 Congressional Report Card, and former Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who, prior to his retirement in 1999, traveled to Israel to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1998, and co-sponsored the May 1997 resolution congratulating the residents of Jerusalem on the 30th anniversary of the city’s “reunification.” CQ considers the race a toss-up.

Iowa 

 
House District 2: While he did not make it into our Hall of Fame, incumbent Democrat David Loebsack cast several positive votes according to our Congressional Report Card. He is being challenged for the second time by ophthalmologist Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who lost to Loebsack in 2008 by 39 to 57 percent. Joining Miller- Meeks on the campaign trail is the wife of incumbent Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, also up for re-election this year. 

Kansas 

 
Senate: Another congressional Hall of Shamer who’s looking to move to the Senate to advance Israel’s interests is Republican Rep. Jerry Moran, who has raised $2.7 million in his bid for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback. As winner of the Aug. 3 Republican primary, beating fellow Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Moran is expected to be the next senator from Kansas, which for more than 70 years has elected only Republicans to the Senate. His opponent, Baker University Assistant Dean Lisa Johnston, has raised slightly more than $10,000. 

House District 4: Competing to fill the seat vacated by Representative Tiahrt are Democrat state legislator Raj Goyle and former Republican National Committeeman Michael Richard Pompeo. On Aug. 12 Pompeo issued an apology for his Twitter and Facebook link to a post–” which he described as a “good read”–”by retired Marine Sgt. Bob Pinkstaff, who called the Indian-American Goyle “just another ‘turban topper.'” Pinkstaff continued, “This guy could be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, etc., who knows… One thing’s for sure…Goyle is not a Christian!” Nevertheless, a poll showed Goyle only 7 points behind Pompeo in this heavily Republican district, and ahead of Pompeo in fund-raising. 

Kentucky

 
Senate: Pro-Israel PACs were putting their money on Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, but Grayson was defeated in the Republican primary by Dr. Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Paul’s opponent is Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. The closeness of the race is reflected in the candidates’ fund-raising totals: Conway’s $3.7 million to Paul’s $3.5 million.

♦♦♦  House District 3: Two-term incumbent John Yarmuth, who also signed the letter to President Obama calling for a lifting of Israel’s siege on Gaza, suddenly finds himself in a close race with Republican challenger Todd Lally, who, according to Louisville television station WHAS, “appears to be riding an anti-incumbent, conservative wave.” As of early September, Yarmuth had raised $997,000 to Lally’s $380,000. 

House District 6: Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler, who cast not a single positive vote according to our Congressional Report Card, is being challenged by Republican attorney Garland Hale “Andy” Barr, IV, a one-time intern for Sen. Mitch McConnell. On his campaign Web site, Barr says, “Rather than seeking to negotiate with terrorists and the corrupt leadership of Iran, we should immediately impose tough economic sanctions to prevent that rogue regime from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” Barr has raised $811,000 to Chandler’s $905,000. 

Louisiana 

 
Senate: Republican incumbent Sen. David Vitter clearly is the Israel lobby’s favored candidate. He’s received $40,500 for this race alone, compared to Democratic challenger Rep. Charlie Melancon‘s career total of $32,100–”none of it for this year’s Senate race. 

House District 2: Freshman Republican incumbent Joseph Cao has attracted $10,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions, even though the Vietnamese-American is running for re-election in a traditionally Democratic and heavily African-American district. Then again, he didn’t cast a single positive vote according to our Congressional Report Card. Cao, who has a good relationship with President Obama, has raised $1.5 million to $500,000 by his Democratic opponent, African-American state legislator Cedric Richardson

House District 3: Running for the seat vacated by Rep. Charlie Melancon is Democratic candidate Ravi Sangisetty, an Indian- American attorney whose father came to the U.S. 30 years ago with $7 in his pocket. While he awaits the result of the Oct. 2 run-off election between Republicans Hunt Downer, former speaker of the Louisiana House, and attorney Jeff Landry, Sangisetty can decide when it’s the best time to start spending the $600,000 he’s raised, compared to Landry’s $534,000 and Downer’s $411,000–”much of which they’ll have to spend against each other between now and Oct. 2. 

Maryland 

 
House District 1: Freshman Democratic incumbent Frank Kratovil Jr. will again face Republican state legislator Andy Harris, who barely lost to Kratovil in 2008. The two have raised similar amounts of money but, unlike Harris, the incumbent had no opponent in the Sept. 14 primary election. CQ rates the race a toss-up. 

House District 4: With her primary win, incumbent Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, the only Hall of Famer in Maryland’s entire congressional delegation, seems assured of re-election. As of early September, Republican Robert Broadus reported no campaign contributions. 

House District 5: House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a frequent visitor to and acolyte of Israel, has a nearly $4 million war chest–”in no small part because his ascent to a leadership position has been accompanied by increasing contributions from pro-Israel PACs. Hoyer has little to fear from Republican opponent Charles Lollar–” unless his constituents decide he’s shown more interest in representing a foreign country than his own district. 

Massachusetts

 
♦♦♦  House District 6: Incumbent Democratic Rep. and Hall of Famer John Tierney is being challenged by attorney Bill Hudak, who, according to The Boston Phoenix, reportedly “once put a sign in his yard depicting Barack Obama as Osama bin Laden, and told reporters he had evidence that Obama was born in Kenya.” Although dismissed by many as a “wacko,” Hudak is no slouch in the fund-raising department: he’s raised $582,000 to Tierney’s $637,000.

Michigan

 
House District 3: Running for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Vern Ehlers–”and once held by former President Gerald Ford–”are Democratic attorney Patrick Miles Jr., a Harvard Law School classmate and supporter of President Obama, and state legislator Justin Amash, a Tea Party favorite who has been endorsed by Rep. Ron Paul. Because Amash already has spent much of the $380,000 he has raised on the Republican primary, which he won by just a handful of votes, as of Sept. 12 he had only $112,000 in cash on hand, compared to Miles’ $227,000.

Minnesota

 
♦♦♦  House District 6: Republican incumbent, Tea Party favorite and Hall of Shamer Rep. Michelle Bachman is being challenged by state legislator Tarryl Clark. While Clark has raised $2.4 million to Bachman’s more than $4 million–”including more pro-Israel PAC contributions this year than any other member of her state’s congressional delegation–”a July poll showed the right-wing incumbent ahead of Clark by only 9 points.

Missouri

 
Senate: In a close rase for the open seat of retiring Republican Kit Bond are former Republican Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The latter would not be the first member of her family elected to the Senate: her father, Gov. Mel Carnahan, defeated incumbent Sen. John Ashcraft two weeks after perishing in a plane crash. His wife, Jean, was appointed to serve a two-year term in his stead. Both were recipients of pro-Israel PAC contributions; curiously, the late governor received $3,500 following his death (for a career total of $15,693), and his wife received $87,422 for her failed bid to be elected in 2002. In his six terms in the House, however, Blunt has been a loyal foot soldier, as evidenced by his career total of $74,350 in pro-Israel PAC contributions, and he is the favored recipient in this race. Overall he’s raised $8.1 million to Carnahan’s $7.3 million.

House District 3: Three-term Democratic incumbent Russ Carnahan is being challenged by Edward Martin, Jr., who told a conservative radio talk show host that Carnahan and President Obama are trying to interfere with Americans’ freedom to worship, and that Secretary of State Carnahan (Russ’ sister) is doing the “devil’s work.” Martin has raised $835,000 to Carnahan’s $1.2 million (including $6,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions).

Nevada

 
Senate: Despite his powerful position as Senate majority leader, and having raised $19 million to his challenger’s $3.6 million, Sen. Harry Reid and his Sarah Palin-endorsed Republican challenger, former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle, are running neck-and-neck. Winning the state’s Hispanic vote is considered crucial in this race, deemed a toss-up by CQ.

New Hampshire

 
Senate: Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes is the Israel Lobby’s pick for this open seat. At press time, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte had a narrow lead over attorney Ovide Lamontagne for the Republican nomination.

New Jersey

 
♦♦♦  House District 12: As one of the 54 House members signing the letter to President Obama calling for a lifting of Israel’s siege of Gaza, incumbent Democratic Rep. Rush Holt has been the subject of attack ads by the neocon Emergency Committee for Israel and charged by his challenger, conservative Republican Scott Sipprelle, with not being sufficiently pro-Israel. Both are described by the New Jersey Jewish News as having “influential Jewish support,” although Holt’s $1,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions seems rather tepid. As of June 30 he had raised $1.2 million in campaign contributions to Sipprelle’s $830,00, and had $1 million cash on hand, more than twice as much as Sipprelle.

New York

 
House District 1: Democratic incumbent Timothy Bishop is being challenged by businessman Randy Altschuler, who described the plan to construct the Cordoba Center in lower Manhattan as “a direct affront to the memories of those who perished on 9/11.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that he’s received more pro-Israel PAC contributions than the incumbent–”not the Lobby’s typical modus operandi.

Ohio

 
Senate: The race for the open seat left by the retirement of Republican Sen. George Voinovitch is deemed a toss-up between former Rep. Rob Portman–”who served in Congress between 1993-2005, when he left to become a member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet, and whom JTA describes as “close to the state’s Jewish community”–”and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Irwin Fisher. Both candidates have received pro-Israel PAC contributions (although, as of June 30, Portman had raised $11 million to Fischer’s $5 million). While Fisher doesn’t give his religion on either his official lieutenant governor or campaign Web site, he told the Dayton Jewish Observer that he “was raised at Suburban Temple in Cleveland. I’m still a member of the temple to this day. My wife is on the board of the temple. I was confirmed at that temple and my children were Bat Mitzvahed, Bar Mitzvahed and confirmed at that temple. And during the inauguration, I asked my rabbi to be one of the speakers at the ecumenical service that we had on the Saturday morning of the inaugural.” Regarding state development projects, he said, “Ohio has an office in the state of Israel that we will continue to invest in….I want to continue that kind of effort but spread it around the state and basically transplant some of the best and brightest ideas and minds in Israel to the state of Ohio, either by convincing them to move their headquarters to Ohio or at a minimum co-locate their businesses so that they have offices both in Ohio and in Israel.” (Ohio has international trade offices in 11 countries, and corporations from 28 countries have investments in Ohio.)

House District 9: While Hall of Fame incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) trails Republican challenger Rich Iott in fund-raising, $313,129 to $877,067, she has more than $1 million cash on hand. We doubt if any of that is from pro-Israel PACs, who last gave her $500 in 1998, for a career total of $2,750. Although the Toledo Examiner describes Iott as “being typecasted [sic] as the most formidable candidate to challenge Kaptur over her period in office,” CQ considers her seat safe.

♦♦♦  House District 15: Freshman Democratic incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy is being challenged by Republican Steve Stivers In a race deemed a toss-up by CQ. As one of the 54 signers of the letter calling for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, Kilroy has been the target of ads by the Emergency Committee for Israel. Moreover, according to The Columbus Dispatch, Stivers raised more than twice as much as Kilroy during the second quarter of 2010. As of June 30, he had $1.2 million in cash on hand to Kilroy’s $933,000. 

Pennsylvania

 
♦♦♦  Senate: Another signer of the Gaza letter (which he says he now regrets having signed), former Navy admiral and two-term congressman Joe Sestak, who defeated incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, also is being targeted by the Emergency Committee for Israel. According to the Jewish weekly Forward, “The committee’s ad…asked, ‘Does Congressman Joe Sestak understand Israel is America’s ally?’…The committee’s ad claims that Sestak raised funds for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which it calls ‘an anti-Israel organization the FBI called a front-group for Hamas.’ It also accuses Sestak of signing a letter that termed the blockade of Gaza ‘collective punishment,’ and of declining to sign a letter ‘affirming U.S. support for Israel.'” Sestak’s Republican opponent, the former congressman and investment banker Pat Toomey, recently reiterated his opposition to hate crimes legislation, which in 2004 he called “an attempt to criminalize thought.” Toomey has raised $10 million to Sestak’s $5.5 million, and CQ calls the race a toss-up. 

♦♦♦  House District 6: Three-term Republican incumbent and Hall of Shamer Jim Gerlach is being challenged by Indian-American Manan Trivedi, a former battlefield surgeon in the Navy who served in Iraq. On his campaign Web site Trivedi says: “The invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and immoral. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, posed no imminent threat to our nation, and al-Qaeda did not enter Iraq until after our occupation.” Gerlach aide Mark Campbell accused Trivedi of playing “the race card” by raising money from his fellow Indian Americans, saying the physician doesn’t share the “common-sense values” of his constituents. As of June 30, Trivedi had $329,000 cash on hand to Gerlach’s $541,000.  

♦♦♦  House District 7: Vying for the open seat vacated by Joe Sestak are Republican Pat Meehan, a former U.S. attorney and campaign manager for former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Democratic state representative Brian Lentz, a former army officer and Iraq vet. Meehan has raised $1.6 million to Lentz’s $1 million, and CQ rates the race a toss-up.  

South Carolina  

 
♦♦♦  House District 2: Incumbent Rep. Joe Wilson achieved notoriety on Sept. 9, 2009, when he yelled “You lie!” to President Obama during the State of the Union address. Both he and his Democratic challenger, Rob Miller, a businessman and former Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq, have become symbols for Republicans and Democrats alike in this heavily Republican district. Wilson has raised $4 million in campaign contributions to Miller $2.6 million, making him the only nonincumbent among the House’s top 10 fund-raisers. As of June 30, each had $1.7 million cash on hand.

Virginia

 
♦♦♦  House District 2: First-term Democratic incumbent Glenn Nye, another of the 54 signers of the Gaza letter and hence a target of attack ads by the Emergency Committee on Israel, is being challenged by car dealer Scott Rigell, who has been endorsed by former Sen. George Allen of “macaca” fame. Nye has raised $1.8 million (including $9,000 from pro-Israel PACs) to Rigell’s $1.7 million. Despite the fact that as of June 30 Rigell had just over $225,000 left, while Nye still had $1.2 million, CQ considers the race a toss-up.

Wisconsin

 
♦♦♦  Senate: According to the JTA, Democratic incumbent Russ Fein-Feingold “maintains a narrow lead over his opponent, Republican Ron Johnson, a plastics executive, but one-third of the voters have told pollsters that they are undecided. That’s not good news for the incumbent…” Johnson has been endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and by the FreedomWorks PAC as part of the Take America Back in 2010 campaign. Even though Senator Feingold has raised $12.6 million–”including $52,000 from pro-Israel PACs–”to Johnson’s $2 million, CQ rates the race a tossup.

 

Top Ten 2010 and Career Recipients of ProIsrael PAC Funds

 

Notes / External Links:

[1]. 2010 Election Watch, Pro-Israel PAC Contributions and Top Ten 2010 & Career Recipients (PDF)
111th Congress Voting Records (PDF)

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