Good Tuesday morning!
And welcome to Super Tuesday! Voters in 14 states head to the polls today to cast their ballots in the presidential primary. Today’s results will be a watershed moment for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who skipped the early races and banked the success of his campaign on the ability to turn out voters in Super Tuesday states. In Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas, candidates for House, Senate and local offices will battle it out for spots on the November ballot. More below.
Today in Washington, speakers at AIPAC’s last day include Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory after yesterday’s national election, but the road to any stable governing coalition is still long — and rocky. More below.
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The congressional races to watch on Super Tuesday
In California, 16 candidates will battle it out for the chance to fill the open seat in southern California’s 53rd congressional district after Rep. Susan Davis announced she would not run for re-election. Frontrunners include San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez and Sara Jacobs — a former Hillary Clinton campaign aide and State Department contractor.
In the state’s 25th district, an open special primary could elect a winner to replace Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned last year amid scandal. State Assemblywoman Christy Smith has received mainstream Democratic support, despite a challenge from her left by “Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur. Also on the ballot is Republican former Rep. Stephen Knight, who lost the seat to Hill in 2018. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, a special election with the top two vote-getters is slated for May 12.
In Texas, a number of congressional races have attracted national attention. In the 22nd district, Pierce Bush — grandson of George H.W. Bush and nephew of George W. Bush — is one of the frontrunners battling a crowded Republican field for a spot on the November ticket. Analysts predict that no candidate in the district will win a majority, setting the stage for a run-off in May. In the state’s 28th district, incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) — who has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — is facing a progressive challenge from Jessica Cisneros, who is backed by both Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and J Street.
In southwestern Texas’s 23rd district, Gina Ortiz Jones is hoping that two years will make all the difference in her run for Congress in Texas’s 23rd congressional district. The Air Force veteran, who is on the ballot in today’s Democratic primary, spoke withJewish Insider’s Marc Rod about her election hopes and policy priorities. Read the full interview here.
In Alabama, the competitive Republican primary race will see former Senator Jeff Sessions battle it out against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Sessions and Tuberville have been polling neck and neck for weeks. The winner of today’s primary will take on Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who is facing growing unpopularity in the state following his support for impeachment earlier this year.
In North Carolina, Jewish communal leader Kathy Manning is the likely winner of today’s Democratic primary in the state’s newly drawn sixth district, and is expected to face off in November in the open race for the seat held by outgoing Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC). In the state’s 11th congressional district, another open race is shaping up as a battleground after Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) announced his retirement. Daniel Driscoll, an investment banker and military veteran, is leading the crowded Republican primary field in fundraising.
Biden picks up support heading into Super Tuesday
Former Vice President Joe Biden is heading into Super Tuesday with the wind at his back. Riding high after his South Carolina primary win and the endorsement of former rivals Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Biden is looking to cement his status as the only electable candidate who can deny Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the nomination in July.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), a Biden supporter, told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that he expects Biden to “make a strong showing.” Schneider said he believes Biden is “the best candidate to represent the Democratic Party, critically for the U.S.-Israel relationship. His first trip as a member of the Senate, so long ago, was to Israel. He is a friend of Israel and has always worked with me in my efforts to support Israel. The day he takes office, he can say with credibility that he stands with Israel, stands with our allies, and the world will believe him because he has a track record on that.”
The man to watch: Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will have to exceed expectations and pick up a significant amount of the pledged delegates up for grabs — after spending more than $500 million — in order to remain in the race. Bloomberg will hold campaign events in Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach today.
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA), who endorsed the former mayor, told JI that while Sanders will undoubtedly do well in a state like California, Bloomberg will “do very well” today and get a fair share of the delegates. “There’s a whole bunch of people who do not like Bernie at all, and I think that because of that Bloomberg has a real chance to win,” he explained. “I still think he’s the one that’s going to get the nomination.”
Lone Star: Armin Rosen writes in Tablet from Austin, Texas about the growing support for Sanders among the state’s Democrats. “If Bernie wins Texas, or even comes close, it will help surface one of the major subtexts of American politics in recent years, which is the scorn that the makers of a given place’s prosperity now often harbor toward the very thing they’re helping to build.”
israeli election results
Netanyahu declares victory with unclear path ahead
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory in the early hours of Tuesday morning — calling it “a great victory for the right-wing camp, and first and foremost a victory for us Likudnikim” — but with election results still trickling in, his path toward a 61-seat majority government remains unclear. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s trial on three charges of corruption is slated to open in Jerusalem on March 17.
Unofficial results: As of press time, about 90% of the votes nationwide had been tallied up, leaving a still somewhat muddled picture. With those incomplete figures, Likud looked set to take 36 seats, Blue and White 32, Joint List 15, Shas 10, with 7 apiece going to United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beitenu and Labor-Gesher-Meretz, and 6 to Yamina. These breakdowns are likely to change when the remaining 10% of votes are counted at some point today. They could further shift after the “double envelope” votes — from soldiers, prisoners, the hospitalized and, this year, ballots from the 16 special coronavirus quarantine polling stations — are counted.
Seat math: The early results and the exit polls have predicted the right-wing bloc taking 58-60 seats, but potentially falling just short of the 61 seats needed to form a majority government. But don’t count Netanyahu out if he narrowly misses out on 61, analysts say. During his victory speech this morning, Netanyahu vowed to quickly build a “strong national government,” but also promised: “We must avoid any more elections. It’s time to heal the rifts. It’s time for reconciliation.”
Bibi’s leverage: Michael Koplow, policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, explained that the current situation makes it easier for Netanyahu to flip one or two people to his side. “Everyone is sick and tired of elections, and some of the right-wing Blue and White MKs who have spent three cycles trying to unseat Netanyahu may conclude that after losing ground, the best path forward is the one of least resistance. Israeli voters have demonstrated that there is no great clamor for unseating a prime minister under indictment.”
Eyes on 61: Jeremy Saltan, a political analyst and Anglo advisor to Yamina, told JI that he thinks it’s “inevitable that if [Netanyahu] doesn’t reach 61, that he will pick off from Blue & White.” But Saltan predicted that, “based on past trends of the double envelopes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the right gets 61 come Thursday afternoon.”
Dr. Einat Wilf, a former member of Knesset, told JI on Monday night: “There is no doubt that in this round Netanyahu had fighting spirit that helped mobilize his supporters. He clearly fought for his life… the Blue and White leaders themselves clearly did not exhibit the same level of desperation to win as Netanyahu.”
Snap analysis: Saltan pointed out that one big story from the results so far is the “increase of turnout in the Likud and Arab sectors” — both of which “can be attributed to Netanyahu’s rhetoric.” Looking more long term, the poor showing by the Labor-Gesher-Meretz joint list underlines “the collapse of the Israeli left to 6 or 7 seats” from a peak of 56 in 1992 and 29 as recently as 2015.
Heard at AIpac
Friedman strikes partisan tone while Schumer preaches bipartisanship
In his speech at AIPAC on Monday evening, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman blasted Democrats for refusing to applaud President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan and pro-Israel moves.
Lifetime opportunity: “To my friends on the left, hating Donald Trump is not an Israel policy,” said Friedman. “If the only reason you don’t like our policy and Israel is that you don’t like our president, regrettably, we will remain unnecessarily, endlessly divided and potentially miss a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Whataboutism: Friedman went on to say: “Had President Obama — with whom I had profound disagreements — had he moved our embassy to Jerusalem, had he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, had he restored tough sanctions on Iran, and authored President Trump’s vision for peace, I would have been the first to applaud, and I’d still be applauding today.” Read more here.
Schumer preaches bipartisanship: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) struck a decidedly softer tone, praising the bipartisanship that has enabled a number of pro-Israel initiatives and legislation. “We can only hope to defend Israel from these threats so long as we maintain a united front, Democrats, and Republicans together,” Schumer declared. “We must not let support for Israel be caught up in the maelstrom. The friendship between our two countries must be unshakeable.”
Heard in the village: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a panel discussion with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), remarked, “Conditioning aid to Israel has to be just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard… Anybody who talks about conditioning aid doesn’t get my vote.”
Farewell party: Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who is expected to retire at the end of the year, received a hero’s welcome. Lowey, who has attended the annual conference for the past 32 years, told the crowd she believes “AIPAC must remain bipartisan.” With regards to military aid, the chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations and head of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, stated, “If anyone out there is suggesting that we cut aid to Israel, it comes from their ignorance, frankly, and they don’t understand the importance of the Israel-United States relationship.”
Bloomberg makes up for debate flub: Michael Bloomberg blasted Bernie Sanders for boycotting and name-calling AIPAC in his address on Monday morning. Bloomberg, who was greeted with enthusiastic applause, called out Sanders as being “dead wrong” for suggesting that AIPAC gives a platform to bigotry. “Calling it a racist platform is an attempt to discredit” the voices of pro-Israel supporters, “intimidate people for coming here, and weaken the U.S.-Israel relationship.” The former mayor told the crowd: “The reality is: AIPAC doesn’t fuel hatred. AIPAC works to combat it — and the violence it can produce. And if more elected officials spoke to the people here, they’d understand that.”
Spin room: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), a Bloomberg campaign surrogate, spoke to Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh following Bloomberg’s speech. “Mayor Bloomberg gave full-throated support of the U.S.-Israel relationship, which went over exceedingly well,” said Deutch. “You could see it in the audience, you could feel the excitement during the speech, and the buzz when he left. People were grateful that he came and even more excited about what they heard.”
On the sidelines: Bloomberg posed for photographs with members of Magen David Adom. In 2007, as mayor, Bloomberg funded the renovation of MDA’s main ambulance center and blood bank in Jerusalem, renaming it after his late father.
Interview: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić spoke with Jewish Insider after announcing that his country will open a diplomatic mission and an economic office in Jerusalem at AIPAC on Sunday. “It’s an official state office, and yes we’re going to do it,” Vučić told JI. Asked about opening an embassy in Jerusalem, he would only say “we’ll speak about it next time.” Read the full interview here.
📚 Learning Lessons: Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the Europe director of the American Jewish Committee, writes in The Atlantic about what American Jews can learn from the long history of European antisemitism. “Europe wasted many years by not addressing the more contemporary forms of antisemitism, because it was politically uncomfortable to do so.” [Atlantic]
🎬 Oy Vey: Fran Drescher, the star and co-creator of the hit 90s TV series “The Nanny” — who is back on screens in “Indebted” — sat down withNew York magazine’s Matthew Schneier to talk about her career, and the overtly Jewish character that made her famous: “I mustered up my chutzpah and told them Fran Fine must be Jewish. And they said, ‘Okay.’” [NewYorkMag]
Around the Web
💸 In Debt: The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia filed for bankruptcy yesterday, telling the court it owes more than $30 million over its construction 10 years ago.
🚫 Virus Fears: A joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise involving American troops stationed in Italy has been canceled over concerns of the spreading coronavirus.
💰 Filthy Rich:Bloomberg examines how the wealthy are preparing for the coronavirus, including private plane rides out of town, calling hospitals with their names on them and demanding a so-far-nonexistent vaccine.
📺 Media Watch: In a surprise move, longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews resigned on air last night, days after accusations of inappropriate comments and more than a week after his heavily criticized comparison of Bernie Sanders’s Nevada win to the Nazi invasion of France.
👱🏻♀️ Political Awakening: Ivanka Trump called herself “a proud Trump Republican” in an interview yesterday, saying her father had “broadened the reach of the Republican Party.”
🗄️ Long Time Coming: The Vatican yesterday opened the archives of Pope Pius XII, after decades of pressure from Jewish groups who accused the pope of complicit silence during the Holocaust.
🎥 Silver Screen: “Persian Lessons,” a Holocaust film about a Belgian Jewish man who pretends to be Persian and speak Farsi to avoid being killed, has been purchased for distribution in China.
🎞️ Hollywood: “Come and See,” a powerful 1985 movie about a teenage boy in Belarus who joins Soviet partisans in 1943, is playing in New York after a film restoration.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: “Jewish Enquirer,” a sitcom miniseries about a fictional Jewish newspaper in London, has hit Amazon Prime in the U.K.
🏈 Sports Blink: Reid Ferguson, a long snapper for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, is touring Israel, including the Dead Sea and Masada.
🕯️ Remembering: James Lipton, the longtime host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” born to a Jewish family in Detroit, has died at age 93.
Gif of the day
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wished the crowd at AIPAC “L’Chaim” as he took a sip of a water bottle during his address at the gathering on Monday evening.
Baltimore-born NPR personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show “This American Life,” Ira Jeffrey Glass turns 61…
Australian residential property developer, colloquially known as “High-Rise Harry,” builder of more than 75,000 residential units, Harry Triguboff turns 87… Professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, author of 27 books and the former co-editor of Dissent magazine, Michael Laban Walzer turns 85… Researcher in Yiddish language at Sweden’s Lund University’s Centre for Languages and Literature, Henrik Lewis-Guttermann turns 71…
Best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of financiers and politicians, Ron Chernow turns 71… President of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky turns 68… Director of state policy for New York State, he was previously chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, David Yassky turns 56… MLB pitcher (1990-2001), then a pitching coach, his 557 appearances ranks second in career games pitched by a Jewish pitcher, Scott David Radinsky turns 52… Co-founder and co-president of Clarity Capital, also chair, co-founder and trustee of NYC-based giving circle, the Natan Fund, David Steinhardt turns 51…
Senior vice president and general counsel at Eli Lilly and Company since last month, Anat Hakim turns 51… Co-chair of United for Mike, he is a co-owner of the Miami Marlins as a member of the Jeter investment group, Ari Jack Ackerman turns 49… Assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York and an adjunct professor of law at NYU, Danielle R. Sassoon turns 34… Press secretary for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Freddi Goldstein turns 30… Steven Kantor…