Daily Kickoff: The Fight for the Future of the Democratic Party


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FIGHT FOR FUTURE OF DEM PARTY — NYT’s Alex Burns on The Daily podcast this morning: “Democrats are saying to each other that they are going to need to play their cards really, really well [going into 2020]. To take on Trump, they are going to need to be really careful about the fights they pick with him from the majority in the House, and I expect you are going to see somewhat greater skepticism about some of the more bluntly left-wing candidates who are preparing to run for president, because that theory of the case really did not deliver victory to their party this week.”

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour lamented last night’s results and the state of the Democratic Party: “This was not a blue wave, this was a blue dribble. We didn’t win overwhelmingly and it doesn’t look good if we don’t get our act straight for 2020… What Democrats do immediately when there’s politics of fear coming from the opposition is they cower. They stay away from the Palestinians, they stay away from the leftists, and they stay away from the socialists. They stay away from those of us who are actually creating the momentum and the energy that is on the ground.”

“The Democratic Party doesn’t have a foreign policy platform that… works for people like me. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who I love dearly, doesn’t have a foreign policy platform. She doesn’t have a lot of information. If you asked her about Iran, you can ask her about Palestine, we saw some of the kind of exchanges that she had, that didn’t kind of go very well… And then the minute that positioning comes in with fear politics, we cower, right? We go, ‘Oh, AIPAC is mad at us. Oh, those folks, the pro-Israel groups are mad at us.’ If you’re not willing to go all the way progressive, you’re just not going to win against Donald Trump in 2020.” [Video]

Alan Dershowitz tells us… “The Democrats will lose if they move to the far left. Many far left candidates lost yesterday precisely because they didn’t represent centrist Democrats. Sarsour is an enemy of democracy and America, and of Israel.”

Ann Lewis emails us… “As I read it, Sarsour is complaining that in an election when Democrats flipped the House and won important Governors, and legislative chambers – they stayed away from her and her friends. If that is her point, this may be the rare instance when I agree with her.”

Dem pollster Mark Mellman: “Democrats on the left and center won today, and Democrats on the left and center lost today. No one can take an ideological lesson from this election. The Democrats who won were the ones who represented their particular constituencies.”

NY-based Dem campaign consultant, Hank Sheinkopf: “Now the secret is out—the long ongoing divorce between the pro-Israel forces and the Democratic Party left gains more speed. When people tell you what they think and what they plan to do, you should really pay attention. Linda Sarsour’s rhetoric has one aim and one direction. First, it’s the Zionists are not allowed entry. But next, it will likely be the silly Jews who think they are immune.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “The results in the House reflect ongoing demographic shifts in the United States, as more younger voters, women, and minorities are moving into leadership roles. That is going to continue. It will be wise for Israel to build and strengthen relationships with these members and demographic groups, in the interest of maintaining the bipartisanship that has been such a key pillar of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Andrew Weinstein, a Florida-based attorney and prominent Democratic donor, tells us… “The fact that [Rep.] Ted Deutch is about to chair the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee should give you a pretty good indication of the importance Democrats in Congress place on our relationship with Israel.”

West Bank kin cheer first Palestinian-American woman in U.S. Congress — by Rami Ayyub and Ali Sawafta: “Tuning into the news at dawn on Wednesday, the extended family of Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, celebrated her victory in their home in the West Bank… She has become “a source of pride for Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world,” her uncle, Bassam Tlaib, said in the small village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa. “I’m going to speak truth to power,” Tlaib told the Detroit Free Press on election night on Tuesday.” [Reuters]

VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE — Leslie Cockburn (D), who was accused of anti-Semitism for her 1991 book, Dangerous Liaison, and its conspiracy theories regarding Israel, lost a bid to flip an open Republican-held seat in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District to Denver Riggleman. Headline on the race from USA Today: “Accused ‘Bigfoot erotica’ devotee elected to House in Virginia, defeats Olivia Wilde’s mom.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks tells us… “We invested significant resources in defeating Cockburn. We’re very, very happy that she will not be coming to the United States Congress. I think that what we did there had a consequential impact on the outcome of that race.”

Source at a leading pro-Israel organization tells us… “The pro-Israel community is delighted that its two major priorities were achieved last night – Cockburn was defeated and [Sen. Bob] Menendez got re-elected. The overwhelming majority of newly elected House Democrats issued solidly pro-Israel policy papers.”

Aaron Davis, J Street political director, emails us… “J Street was proud to support Leslie Cockburn, who ran a very strong race but came up short in a district that President Trump won by over 10 points in 2016.”

KEY SENATE RACES — Democrats picked up a Senate seat in Nevada with Jacky Rosen’s win over Sen. Dean Heller… In Indiana, Sen. Joe Donnelly, who recently worked on bipartisan pro-Israel legislation — targeting Hamas and Hezbollah for using human shields — with Sen. Ted Cruz (R), lost his re-election bid… Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) easily beat his Republican opponent Bob Hugin after a close fight… Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) narrowly wonhis first tough reelection bid against Beto O’Rourke…  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) won his re-election bid in a contested race against Patrick Morrisey… Josh Hawley, a Republican who suggested that the Iran nuclear deal was a choice between the Iranian mullahs or America, defeatedincumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri’s Senate race… Martha McSally (R) is leading Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema 49-48 in Arizona’s open Senate seat…

Mitt Romney is headed to Washington after all — as U.S. Senator for Utah — by Dennis Romboy: “Mitt Romney is headed to Washington after all. The former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor can add U.S. senator to his list of political accomplishments after cruising to victory Tuesday… Though he will head to the nation’s capital as Utah’s junior senator, Romney will have instant credibility with his Republican colleagues, though he won’t wield near the power of the venerable Hatch. Some observers expect him to seek positions on the Senate foreign relations and national security committees.” [DeseretNews]

HOUSE RACES WE WERE WATCHING… Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) won re-election against Perry Gershon in New York’s 1st Congressional District… Max Rose (D) beat Republican incumbent Dan Donovan in NY’s 11th District… Antonio Delgado (D) defeated incumbent Rep. John Faso in NY’s 19th District… Tom Malinowski (D) ousted 5-term Rep. Leonard Lance in New Jersey’s 7th District… Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick  (R) bested Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania’s 1st District… Susan Wild defeated Marty Nothstein in PA’s 7th District… Elaine Luria won against Rep. Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd District… Abigail Spanberger defeated Rep. Dave Brat, who beat former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014, in VA’s 7th District… Ayanna Pressley (D) — who supports a House bill that would require the U.S. to ensure that military aid to Israel is not used for the “detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children” — won an uncontested race in Massachusetts’s 7th District… In Minnesota’s 5th District, Ilhan Omar celebrated becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

Elissa Slotkin (D) unseated Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th District… Lena Epstein, who sought to become the first Jewish Republican woman elected to Congress, fell short in her bid for the open seat in MI’s 11th District… Kathy Manning (D) lost her bid for North Carolina’s 13th District… Dean Phillips (D) was declared the winner in Minnesota’s 3rd District against Rep. Erik Paulsen (R)… Democrat Harley Rouda is leading Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) in California’s 48th District… Donna Shalala (D) turned outgoing Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat blue in Florida’s 27th District… Rep. Duncan Hunter was re-elected in CA’s 50th District, defeating Ammar Campa-Najjar… Controversial Rep. Steve King (R) won a 9th term in Iowa’s 4th District… Former Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones lost his bid in Illinois’s 3rd District, but he still received more than 55,000 votes…

CNN EXIT POLLJewish voters preferred Democrats over Republican candidates by a 79 to 17 percentage point margin.

INBOX — Michael Bloomberg on the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives: “By winning the House, Democrats can now serve as a bulwark against a White House that has shown no respect for the rule of law – and no interest in bringing the country together. The Democrats’ gains demonstrate that the American people want Congress to stand up to a reckless, divisive president – and to work across the aisle to tackle tough issues. Millions of Americans poured their hearts into the campaign to retake the House – and I was proud to be a part of the effort. We can do better in America today, and we must start now.”

HEARD THIS MORNING — Dan Senor on CBS This Morning: “It’s not like Obama 2010. It’s not like Clinton in 1994… This has not been like a siege in terms of a radicalized electorate, completely turning Congress upside down. That said, [Republicans] are living with the reality… They said it to me last night, they said to me this morning, ‘We are about to be besieged by investigations, and the conservative policy agenda is over.'” [Video]

JI READERS REACT TO THE ELECTION RESULTS — Norm Eisen:“The president’s ability to dodge accountability for him and those around him for possible obstruction and collusion ended tonight. If at least one House of Congress had not changed hands, he could have terminated Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation with total impunity. Now, the House of Representatives is there to pick up the torch if he tries–or even if he doesn’t. There will be oversight of much more as well, including emoluments, ethics violations, nepotism, and outrageous self-dealing by Mr. Trump, his family and his cabinet and appointees. It is about time.”

Dan Shapiro: “It’s a mixed picture. Americans returned to their preference for divided government by flipping the House to Democrats. That also reflects a sense that President Trump’s excesses need balancing, which Democratic committee chairs can provide with oversight and investigations, if not in legislation. Democrats performed well in suburban districts where Trump is unpopular, like New Jersey-7 where Tom Malinowski won, and Michigan-8, where Elissa Slotkin appears to have won. I supported both of these excellent candidates, who were colleagues of mine in the Obama Administration. But Trump showed that he still has support in key states where he campaigned, like Ohio and Florida. Democrats will need a candidate in 2020 who can compete well in these purple states.”

Former Senator Norm Coleman, who also serves as National Chair of the RJC, emails us… “It was not unexpected that the House went Democrat. Historically Democrats pick up 30 seats in the first midterm of the president of the opposing party. Republicans have done really well in expanding our majority in the Senate. Predictions of a huge blue wave were severely overrated. Interesting to note that Democrats who voted against Kavanaugh in red states all went down to defeat. The only Democrat in a red state to survive was Manchin, who voted for Kavanaugh.”

Tevi Troy: “The conventional wisdom mostly held in this cycle, which is by no means typical in recent elections. This could mean that pollsters are finally getting better at analyzing and predicting the smartphone era electorate. From a legislative standpoint, the safest bet is two years of gridlock, as cooperation still seems a bridge too far between two bitterly divided parties.”

HEARD ON CABLE ― CNN’s Jake Tapper: “[Trump] just lost the House.”Wolf Blitzer: “But he did manage to hold on to the Senate.” Tapper: “I know, and mazel tov. But the bottom line is: this is not a good night for President Trump.” [Video]

IN FLORIDA — Democrats failed in their bid to take over the Florida governorship, and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D) lost a tight Senate race to outgoing Governor Rick Scott. But an amendment to Florida’s constitution that would restore voting rights for felons passed by an overwhelming majority. The initiative was backed by George Soros, Seth Klarman, Stacy Schusterman, and several Jewish groups. According to Andrew Weinstein, Amendment 4 will guarantee that 10 percent of Florida’s voting-age population — and 21% of its black adults — will be eligible to vote in 2020. “That’s a very big deal,” he said.

ELSEWHERE — Jared Polis (D) made history by becoming the first Jewish governor of Colorado and the first openly gay person to serve in the post… J. B. Pritzker (D) soundly defeated first-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, becoming Illinois’s 43rd governor… Andrew Cuomo (D) won a third term as New York Governor as Democrats sweep key statewide races… In Maryland, Ben Jealous and running mate Susan Turnbull lost their bid to unseat Republican Governor Larry Hogan… Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lost his bid for a third term…

WHITE HOUSE SCENE ― Sheldon Adelson, Steve Schwarzman, Tom Barrack, Ike Perlmutter, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Harold Hamm, Michael Milken, Howard Lorber, Dan Gilbert and Steve Witkoff joined President Trump, his family, and close aides to watch the election results last night, according to Maggie HabermanJeremy Diamond, and Jennifer Jacobs.

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT  — Steve Schwarzman, John Waldron Spend Night Before Midterms at the Library — by Amanda Gordon: “On the eve of the midterm elections, a mix of money and intellect gathered at the New York Public Library’s annual black-tie gala. There was Steve Schwarzman… and New Yorker editor David Remnick, who in a dispatch on Monday called President Trump “an unceasing generator of toxic gas that raises the national temperature.” Schwarzman was cagey about his desired outcome in the U.S. Congress. “Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter,” he said of his preference. “What will come out, comes out.” … Boaz Weinstein, founder of Saba Capital… said he was rooting for a “fair and balanced” Congress.” [Bloomberg]

SCENE IN LA — Producer Jason Blum Booed At L.A.’s Israel Film Festival For Anti-Trump Remarks — by David Caspi: “Film and television producer Jason Blum was booed and physically removed from the stage after making controversial political statements in an acceptance speech at the 32nd Israeli Film Festival on Tuesday night. The Oscar-nominated producer of Get Out and the current Halloween sequel was presented with the 2018 IFF Achievement in Film & Television Award and suggested the recent uptick in anti-semitism could be attributed to President Donald Trump, which was immediately met with several members of the crowd booing him.” [HollywoodReporter]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy Cabinet minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to Washington, says the results made it more likely that President Donald Trump would turn to international diplomacy to reach a deal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Oren has told The Associated Press: “There is no issue which would have greater reverberations, not just on the right but in the center and maybe even on parts of the left that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

“He says the results have a two-pronged influence on Israel. The first is to view the Democratic retaking of the House as an opportunity for Israel to reach out again to Democrats and liberal Jews who overwhelmingly supported them after years of the Jewish state perceived as enthusiastically praising Trump. The second is to try and push for as many concrete solutions to its chief concerns — Iran, Syria and the Palestinians — while Trump remains in the White House.” [AP]

TALK OF THE REGION — Israeli Spyware May Have Helped Khashoggi Killers, Snowden Says — by Michael Arnold: “Israel-based NSO Group Ltd. may have helped Saudi Arabia track and kill government critic Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month, fugitive U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden told an Israeli audience by video conference… The company’s Pegasus software, which can infect a target’s smartphone and in effect turn it into a spying device, had been installed on the phone of another Saudi dissident who was in contact with Khashoggi, Snowden said… This could have helped the Saudis track Khashoggi and lure him to the consulate, Snowden said, without giving any evidence that it did.”[Bloomberg]

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Fox-Disney Deal Adds Drama to Long-Running Bob Iger Succession [Bloomberg] • Carlyle’s David Rubenstein Says China Is Best Place to Invest Outside of U.S. [Bloomberg] • Fintech start-up Sharegain targets fund managers with securities lending platform [FinancialTimes] • Appeal of BLM-Wexner land swap near Carbondale in judge’s hands [AspenTimes

What ‘the De Niro of Israel’ Stole From Tony Shalhoub for ‘The Band’s Visit’ — by Gordon Cox: “Sasson Gabay… never saw Shalhoub’s performance live, but he did catch a recording of it. “I took from the tape gestures that he’d done,” Gabay said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “And I think I stole from him a laugh that he managed to do. He told me, ‘Feel free to take anything.’ And as much as I could, I took from him!” Gabay’s current Broadway run is part of a full-circle journey for the actor, after he first played Tewfiq in the 2007 Israeli film that inspired the musical. “For me personally, it was kind of a big, giant step in my career,” the actor said of his part in the movie. “It made me known for the film viewer, and also for the film industry. And since then, I have been offered roles even more.” [Variety]

Hitler in war, Merkel in peace: A train car for history  — by Thomas Adamson: “[Adolf] Hitler literally tried to rewrite history in 1940 when the Nazi leader commanded the dining coach to serve France the humiliation Germany suffered in that same spot on the last day of World War I. This time, [Angela] Merkel will have the French president by her side as she visits what remains of the Wagon of Compiegne, the carriage-turned-office where the Allies and Germany signed the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Measles outbreak in Israel prompts warning in New York — by Susan Scutti: “Measles has been diagnosed in 17 children in the Orthodox Jewish community in the Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn, the New York City Department of Health stated Friday. Some of the infected children, who range in age from 7 months to 4 years, have experienced complications including hospitalizations, but there have been no deaths. Three of the children were infected on a visit to Israel, where there is a large outbreak of the disease, the department stated.” [CNN]

BIRTHDAYS: Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshiva of Flatbush and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel turns 89… Former United States Senator from Minnesota (1978-1991) who later served on the boards of AIPAC and JINSA, Rudy Boschwitz turns 88… Stage, screen and television actor, Barry Newman turns 80… MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov turns 79… Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2002-2010), the last four years of which he served as Vice Chairman, Donald Kohn turns 76… University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, expert on Shakespeare and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt turns 75… Founding partner of Los Angeles-based law firm of Selvin & Weiner, Beryl Weiner turns 75… Canadian entrepreneur and CEO of Canadian Arctic luxury apparel company, Canada Goose, Dani Reiss turns 45…

SVP of global public affairs at Blackstone, she was previously the senior director of corporate reputation at GE and a deputy press secretary in the Obama White House (2014-2017), Jennifer B. Friedman turns 38… New Mexico native now living in Chicago, he is the editor of NM Fishbowl focused on the business side of collegiate sports, Daniel Libit turns 36 (h/t Playbook)… Ph.D. candidate at the Yale University Department of Nursing following three years as an RN at Johns Hopkins Hospital and multiple media stints, Avi Zenilmanturns 34… Campaign reporter at Politico, focused on House and Senate races, she was formerly a news assistant at the New York Times, Elena Schneiderturns 28… Toronto-native, he is the founder and CEO of Count Me In, a global youth empowerment organization, Shane Feldman turns 24… Co-Founder and CEO at NYX Technologies, Tomer Aharonovitch


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