Good Tuesday morning!
It’s presidential primary day in the states of Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Voters in Illinois will also be casting their primary ballots for state and local primaries.
Officials in Ohio have postponed today’s primary over coronavirus concerns after a legal back and forth that was settled just hours before the polls were slated to open.
Palace intrigue: President Donald Trump is reportedly pointing fingers at Jared Kushner for the administration’s slow response to the outbreak. The New York Timesdetails Kushner’s behind-the-scenes push to influence the team working on the matter.
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Races to watch
How will coronavirus impact a three-way Illinois congressional race?
A close Illinois primary race — marked by an unusual focus on policy towards Israel among Democrats and a Holocaust-denying neo-Nazi on the Republican side — may end up being determined by something else altogether: a virus that has yet to be contained. For Jewish Insider, Ian Deitch examines the state of the campaign.
The contenders: The race for Illinois’s 3rd congressional district drew attention when Israel became a voting issue in a primary otherwise focused on health care, abortion rights and domestic social issues. Challengers to incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) — including Marie Newman, who lost to Lipinski by a small margin in 2018, and Rush Darwish, who hopes to be the first Palestinian-American from Illinois in Congress — went after the eight-term congressman for his support of the Jewish state.
Turnout fears: Nobody is quite sure how coronavirus will impact the election, said Sean Tenner, a Chicago-based Democratic political consultant, “but a few things are clear. Turnout is absolutely going to be lower than it would be if we were not in the middle of a pandemic.” Lipinski, he said, tends to do better with seniors, who will likely fear “the risk of exposure.” But younger voters, who tend to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), could be less enthusiastic to vote after the decline of the Vermont senator’s chances in the presidential race.
Establishment strength: John Mark Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said that “the Democratic Party is in no mood to take a gamble.” The party has made it clear that “we’re not going to be very finicky about what peoples’ positions are, we’re going to support incumbents so that we maintain control of the House and try to get a bunch of Senate candidates nominated who will be competitive.” In the debate between “ideological purity and anticipated electability, electability is winning out in a big way right now,” Hansen added.
In the 7th district, human rights activist Kristine Schanbacher is among three candidates looking to unseat 12-term Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL).
In the state’s formerly red 14th district, seven Republicans are vying for a chance to take on first-term Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood in November. Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx is fighting to hold onto her seat in a race that has taken on national interest. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorsed Foxx, who faced criticism for her handling of actor Jussie Smollett’s case last year.
The rabbi running to defend his Illinois state House seat
Illinois State Representative Yehiel Mark Kalish is no stranger to firsts — he is, after all, the first Orthodox rabbi to serve in the state’s lower house — and today is no exception. As voters across the state head to the polls, Kalish hopes that Democrats in Illinois’s 16th state House district will cast their vote for him as he makes his first formal run for office.
Details: Kalish, 44, was appointed to the seat in January 2019 after former State Rep. Lou Lang announced his resignation just two days before being sworn in. On Tuesday, Kalish faces two progressive challengers — Denise Wang Stoneback, who is backed by Lang and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Kevin Olickal — both of whom joined the race after Kalish voted “present” against the Reproductive Health Care Act, which established abortion as a fundamental right in the state of Illinois. The GOP is not running a candidate in the general election.
Bio: Kalish, an Orthodox rabbi and a member of Agudath Israel of America’s board of trustees, joined Agudath Israel in 2002 as head of the organization’s newly created legislative office in Chicago, eventually moving to New York to serve as national director of government affairs. In 2014, Kalish returned to Chicago to open his own lobbying and business consulting firm, the S4 Group. One of 12 Jewish members of the state’s legislature, he also serves as the cantor of Chicago’s Congregation Shaarei Tzedek Mishkan Yair.
A target of the left: Olickal, who proudly promotes himself as a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), targeted the incumbent for his views on abortion in a mailer that was criticized for featuring Kalish in religious attire. In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh, Kalish pushed back against the critics, saying that they are targeting him because they want lawmakers who are “unequivocally supportive of a woman’s right to choose without asking questions” or having an independent mind. “They want obedience. That’s not the way I was brought up,” he said.
First-time challenge: Kalish described his first race as a “trial by fire,” and said the “negativity coming towards us is exceedingly strong. It’s definitely been a challenge for me and my entire family,” he said. “But the sense of purpose — to try to represent my community and make a ‘Kiddush Hashem’ [sanctification of the name of God] is very strong. It’s definitely been challenging and rewarding at the same time. So I feel good.” Kalish said he hasn’t responded to his rivals in a negative manner, choosing instead to focus on his record of accomplishments as a legislator. “In politics, you don’t swing down, you only swing up,” he explained.
Read the full interview here.
Unlike most investors, Boaz Weinstein’s fund on the rise amid coronavirus
As the stock market plunges amid concerns about the coronavirus and its impact on the global economy, one hedge fund appears to be on the rise — Saba Capital Management, headed by Boaz Weinstein, which made significant gains in recent weeks, according to a letter sent to Saba clients over the weekend.
Money talks: Weinstein told clients that Saba, which manages $2.2 billion, had seen its “most profitable week in the firm’s 11-year history and our most profitable year to date.” Through Friday, Saba’s main fund was up 67% and its tail fund was up 175%, while his closed-end funds ETF was down 17%. The hedge fund manager, who launched Saba in 2009, told investors: “I have had the conviction… for a long time that investors needed to be ready for an extreme market decline.”
Not the norm: Saba is an anomaly on Wall Street this week, as major hedge funds — including many that profited from past market crises — hit record losses. Jim Simons’ Renaissance is having one of its worst months in more than a decade. Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio toldThe Financial Times last week that his flagship fund had already dropped 20%. Avenue Capital Group co-founder Marc Lasry explained toBloomberg Businessweek that he “totally misunderstood this virus.”
Flashback: In 2010, Weinstein toldYediot Aharonot that while he was born in America he is “Israeli in my heart.” His parents met in the 1960s at a fundraiser for Golda Meir, and he named his fund after his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.
📺 Jew Tube: Writing in Vanity Fair, Lisa Leibman wonders — with recent shows “Hunters,” “The Plot Against America” and the upcoming “Unorthodox” — when did American TV become so Jewish. “Their mainstream success seems to indicate that what’s singularly Jewish can also be broadly appealing.” [VanityFair]
🎭 The World’s a Stage: Eric Kuhn, a 32-year-old Broadway producer and pioneer in the media landscape, toldThe Financial Times that his latest career endeavor is about more than just money. “There’s art, and there’s commerce,” he said. “We believe in both.” [FT]
🖋️ Fight Hate With Joy: Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in The Spectator that the only way to defeat hatred is “by collective celebration.” The rabbi posts that “joy is the Jewish way of defeating hate. What you can laugh at cannot hold you captive.” [Spectator]
Around the Web
💲 Mission Accomplished: Democratic megadonors appear satisfied enough with Joe Biden’s recent victories that they are considering dropping plans to create a super PAC aimed at pushing Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the race.
💵 Taking Steps: Declaration Partners, an adviser to Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein’s family office, has registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise outside capital.
🤳 Influencer: The Wall Street Journalincludes Haley Sacks, a 28-year-old self-taught investor who gives financial advice on Instagram, among its “financial gurus millennials listen to.”
👨💼👨💼 Jersey Boys:The Real Deal explores why Kushner Companies seems to always pursue markets on its own home turf.
🖥️ Dealmaking: U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman acquired Israeli cybersecurity company Checkmarx from Insight Partners in a cash deal valued at $1.15 billion.
👨💼 Transition: In The Hollywood Reporter, Kim Masters posits that Disney CEO Bob Iger’s resignation felt rushed because it was “particularly out of character for Iger.”
🥌 Day of Reckoning:An Israeli man fearing a coronavirus apocalypse decided to return a 2,000-year-old catapult stone he stole from the City of David in Jerusalem 15 years ago.
😘 No Kissing: Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the chief rabbi of the Western Wall, urged visitors to refrain from kissing the stones of the Kotel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
📱 Phone Tapping:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that his government will use advanced digital monitoring tools, used in counterterrorism operations, to track coronavirus patients for the next 30 days, in a move criticized for its privacy intrusion.
🇮🇱 Small Crowd: Israel’s 23rd Knesset was sworn in yesterday in 40 rounds of just three MKs at a time to avoid spreading the virus.
👎 Bad Joke: Sarah Leah Whitson, managing director for research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, used a blood libel term in a now-deleted response to a tweet mocking Israeli action against coronavirus.
🗒️ On the Hill: More than 60 Democratic House members sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting an examination of Israel using American military equipment to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
👨 Across the Pond: Brian Gordon, an Orthodox Jewish councillor in Edgware, has been elected the new mayor of London’s Borough of Barnet. Gordon, who will begin his one-year term in May, made national headlines in 2007 for wearing blackface on Purim.
📚 Final Verdict:Amazon banned the sale of most editions of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and other Nazi propaganda books from its store following decades of campaigning by leading Holocaust education charities and Jewish groups.
👩 Moving Up:Wall Street Journal reporter Shayndi Raice has been named the paper’s Midwest bureau chief for U.S. news.
Tracy Wolfson turns 45 — Lead field/floor reporter for CBS Sports football and basketball broadcasts, she also serves on the board of the JCC in Tenafly, NJ
Mark K. Rosenfeld turns 74 — CEO of Wilherst Developers and trustee of publicly traded Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust
Alan H. H. Fleischmann turns 55 — Founder, president and CEO of Laurel Strategies, he is also the co-founder and board member of ImagineNations Group
Eric A. Fusfield turns 53 — Director of legislative affairs at B’nai B’rith International
Richard Metzler turns 43 — VP at Las Vegas-based Gold Coast Promotions, assisting non-profits in fundraising
Lipa Schmeltzer turns 42 — Hasidic singer, entertainer and composer
Stephen Kramer Glickman turns 41 — Actor, music producer and stand-up comedian, best known as Gustavo Rocque on the Nickelodeon television series “Big Time Rush”
Rick Sorkin turns 41 — Musician and digital strategy executive
Robert Joshua Luck turns 41 — Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit since November
Emily Claire Friedman Cohen turns 35 — Digital reporter and producer for ABC News
Ethan Porter turns 35 — Assistant professor at GW University in the School of Media and Public Affairs
Jackie Fishman turns 34 — Grants officer at the Open Society Foundations
Annaliese Rosenthal turns 33 — Director of field operations at Uber
Jessica Elizabeth Naziri turns 32 — Los Angeles-based tech journalist and founder of the TechSesh blog
Zach Sherman turns 24 — Casino marketing analyst at Caesars Entertainment Corporation