Good Tuesday morning!
Today, voters in Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia head to the polls for Republican and Democratic primaries being conducted largely by mail. More below.
We’ve updated our election map. The interactive map features hundreds of candidate profiles, position papers and now primary results. Check it out here.
Republican House members are planning to introduce a new Iran sanctions bill this week that is being described as “the toughest sanctions that have ever been proposed by Congress on Iran.”
Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s shipping entities. And Iran dismissed President Donald Trump’s offer to negotiate a better nuclear deal as “nothing but political showboating.” This morning, Iran said it will execute a man it accused of sharing information about Gen. Qassem Soleimani with the U.S. and Israel.
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Georgia political wunderkind Niles Francis dishes on his state’s primary
Those who follow Niles Francis’s lively Twitter page — featuring his incisive and sometimes caustic commentary on electoral politics, along with detailed political maps he produces himself — may be surprised to discover he is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate who lives with his grandparents in Atlanta. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke to the young enthusiast about his love of politics and his predictions for today’s races.
Overcoming the odds: Francis estimated that he began gaining traction on Twitter within the past year or so, though it hasn’t been a seamless experience by any means. During his junior year of high school, he lost all his possessions in a house fire, only a month before his mother died from diabetic shock.
Informing the pros: Jonathan Martin, a national political correspondent for The New York Times, is one of many reporters who appreciate Francis’s analysis. “I really enjoy the political maps Niles puts together,” Martin told JI in an email. “He has a bright future in whatever he chooses, journalism, politics or cartography.” Greg Bluestein, a political reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, agreed. “Niles has quickly made a mark on Georgia politics with his quick wit and incisive analysis,” he said. “Most people are stunned to discover he’s a teenager and not a grizzled veteran politico — a testament to his remarkable political aptitude.”
Niles’s Georgia races to watch:
U.S. Senate, Democratic primary: Francis told JI he wouldn’t be surprised if former investigative journalist Jon Ossoff, who is mounting a comeback campaign of sorts in a crowded race after narrowly losing his bid for office in Georgia’s 6th congressional district two years ago, wins outright without the need for a runoff. Ossoff has raised the most money of any Democratic candidate, Francis said, noting that he also has more name recognition, and “those undecided voters are probably going to vote for the most recognizable candidates.” If the primary advances to a runoff, he said, it will likely be between Ossoff and Teresa Tomlinson, a former attorney and mayor of Columbus.
Georgia’s 7th congressional district, Democratic primary: The district, which includes northern Atlanta, is a battleground zone in which more than a dozen Democrats and Republicans are vying to succeed retiring Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), who won by just 433 votes — roughly 0.16% — in 2018 against Carolyn Bourdeaux. Francis believes Bourdeaux, who is running again this year and has raised more than $1.7 million — the most of any candidate, according to the Federal Election Commission — has the “upper hand,” though he added that Zahra Karinshak, the Iranian-American state senator who flipped a Republican-held district two years ago, could have enough support to force a runoff.
Georgia’s 7th congressional district, Republican primary: Francis observed that the race is between two contenders: Renee Unterman, the outspoken Georgia state senator, and Rich McCormick, an emergency room physician who has been backed by Club for Growth, the conservative political action committee. Francis has his odds on McCormick. “The thing about Unterman is she’s not really well liked,” he said. “I’d say that McCormick has the upper hand in that primary because he’s polling well,” Francis added. “I saw one poll — granted, it was a Club for Growth internal poll — but the poll that I saw has him at, like, 40-something percent, and she’s all the way down in the low 20s.”
Elsewhere today: Other races to watch today include Nevada’s 4th district, where Randi Reed is aiming to clinch the Republican congressional primary in a crowded field. In South Carolina, the Democratic primary for Senate was canceled, and Jaime Harrison was handed the chance to take on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in November. In the state’s 5th district, Moe Brown is expected to pick up the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) this November.
Prominent Republicans back a conspiracy theory-promoting congressional candidate in Georgia
More than $3 million has been raised in Georgia’s 14th congressional district in the race to succeed Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), who is not seeking re-election. Nine Republicans are battling it out to replace the five-term congressman in one of the safest GOP districts in the country, and one of the leading candidates has a history of questionable ties and pushing far-right conspiracy theories, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.
Cash influx: The House Freedom Caucus’s political arm, the House Freedom Fund, has endorsed and donated nearly $200,000 to businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has trafficked in conspiracy theories and posed for photos with former neo-Nazi leader and Ku Klux Klan head Chester Doles. Prominent conservatives including Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — as well as Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk — have also endorsed Greene. Greene leads the field in fundraising; in addition to raising more than $450,000, she has poured $700,000 of her own money into her campaign.
Other contenders:Greene is far from the only Republican candidate running a strong campaign in the district. Physician John Cowan has banked $700,000, followed by former Pentagon official Ben Bullock with $356,000 and prosecutor and former White House fellow Clayton Fuller with $338,000. Nearly all of the other candidates have raised at least $100,000.
Foreign policy: Greene’s campaign website makes no mention of foreign policy, and she did not respond to a request for comment. Bullock, who visited Israel in 2016, said his experience there made him believe a two-state solution is the best option for the region, and the U.S. needs to apply pressure to the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. Cowan said his support for the Jewish state is grounded in his evangelical Christian faith, and he supports a two-state solution as “probably the only means of maintaining a long-lasting peace there.” Fuller said he does not support any particular peace plan, but said the U.S. “should always be working toward maintaining stability and ensuring that the Israeli interests are protected and maintained.”
What to expect: Don’t be surprised if a winner isn’t called tonight. Greene is expected to do well, but with the broad field of candidates, an August run-off is likely. “She’s pretty far hard right, but that may well fit with what the district is looking for,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock — no relation to Ben Bullock — said. “It looks like she has tried to make herself out as the most consevative, strongest Second Amendment supporter.”
Former Trump campaign staffer hopes her $1.35M haul will help send her to Congress
South Carolina State Representative Nancy Mace likes to think of herself as a uniting force. “I’m a big believer in bringing people together,” Mace, who is on Tuesday’s ballot in the Republican primary for the state’s 1st congressional district, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod in a recent interview. But Mace first has to unite the party behind her, and beat out three other candidates all vying to challenge first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) in November.
Competition: Mace is up against local town councilwoman and financial planner Kathy Landing, Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox and affordable housing advocate Brad Mole. All are hoping to unseat Cunningham, who narrowly flipped the seat in 2018. Cunningham won the district, which the Cook Political Report has rated a toss-up, by less than 4,000 votes.
War chest: “I’m the only candidate that has a real campaign going,” Mace said. “They’re all nice people, but we’ve raised almost $1.4 million… If you’re going to take on one of the top two seats in the nation in November, you better know how to fundraise.” Mace has raised $1.35 million, more than twice Landing’s haul to date. Cox and Mole both trail far behind. Mace is also leading in the polls — an April poll by the Club for Growth, which is backing Mace, found her 29 points ahead of Landing, though it predicted she would still fall short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff.
Priorities: Mace is hopeful that her ability to work across the aisle will appeal to voters. She specifically pointed to her work on infrastructure, healthcare, taxes and environmental conservation, as well as a bill she introduced banning the shackling of pregnant inmates, which was recently signed into law. Landing hopes to use her experiences as a financial planner and in local government to address fiscal issues. She emphasized that she has no interest in a career as a politician, and supports enacting congressional term limits.
Allies of Israel: Both candidates cast themselves as strong supporters of Israel. In a position paper submitted to AIPAC, Landing blamed Palestinian leadership for blocking a two-state solution: “Until the Palestinians become serious about ending their use of violence and bellicose rhetoric as a tool in negotiations with Israel, expect the two-state solution to remain a distant dream.” Mace likewise believes the U.S. should throw its full support behind the Jewish state, and lists “Stand with Israel” among the top policy priorities on her website. “I think Israel should be able to decide for herself when negotiating an agreement with the Palestinian Authority,” she told JI. “I would never presume to dictate the terms of any of that.”
Driving the convo
Does annexation hinge on Gantz’s approval?
The Trump administration is reportedly conditioning a U.S. green light on Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu getting Defense Minister Benny Gantz on board with the plan. Israel’s Channel 12 reported today that Gantz is expected to visit Jordan amid rising tensions between the countries over annexation efforts.
Heard yesterday: During a webcast hosted by the American Jewish Committee, Jordan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Dina Kawar warned that annexing portions of the West Bank will have a devastating impact on the Palestinian economy and put the existing peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in danger. Annexing the Jordan Valley “will kill any idea of peace, and any Palestinian state that comes after this takes place will become an enclave of Israel with no borders…[and] eventually become a de facto one state,” Kawar said.
We had a dream: “When we signed the treaty in 1994, the euphoria of peace, the trust that was existing then — the idea of this cooperation, between the Jordanians, the Palestinians and Israel — it was some beautiful dream that we had then,” the Jordanian ambassador said, “And now, when you look [at] where we’re going, I ask myself, What for? Is it something that the Israelis want going towards this eventual situation? Is it something that we can impose on the Palestinians? And is it something that’s safe for us as Jordanians?”
Think twice: Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian official in charge of relations with Israel, toldNew York Times reporters David Halbfinger and Adam Rasgon that the Israeli government should reconsider its plan before it is left with the burdens of an military occupier in the West Bank after the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
How did we get here? The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky details in The Washington Post the regional developments that have led Israel to push hard towards annexation, a move that once seemed improbable.
📰 Testing Times: In the Columbia Journalism Review, Jane Eisner, director of academic affairs at the Columbia School of Journalism and former editor-in-chief of The Forward, details the uncertainty many Jewish media outlets are facing as they battle the economic impact of COVID-19. [CJR]
😠 No Confidence: Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports that President Donald Trump has been grumbling about Jared Kushner and campaign manager Brad Parscale as his poll numbers continue to slip. Sherman quotes a Republican close to the campaign saying that Trump “is going to broom Kushner” if the numbers don’t improve. [VanityFair]
🧤 Gloves Off:The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins explores what led Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to join a recent Black Lives Matter protest, propelled by the legacy of his father, Michigan Gov. George Romney. “His father set a high bar — and as Romney nears the end of his career, he wants to be seen reaching for it.” [TheAtlantic]
🎼 Lost Music: CBS’s “60 Minutes” features the “lost music” written by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, some of which is being discovered and revived by Italian composer and pianist Francesco Lotoro. “The miracle is that all of this could have been destroyed, could have been lost,” Lotoro said. “And instead the miracle is that this music reaches us.” [CBS]
Around the Web
💰 Startup Nation: The Israeli-founded insurance startup Lemonade has filed paperwork for a $2 billion IPO.
🖼️ Big Plan: Saudi Arabia is planning to build a new museum of Saudi culture and Islamic art in order to unveil the 500-year-old Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting it bought for $450 million three years ago.
🛩️ Sky’s The Limit: Israel Aerospace Industries received a $350 million contract from an unidentified European country for special mission aircraft.
⚡ Protecting Measures: Israel’s embattled NSO Group demonstrated a new anti-drone defense system on Monday that has already been purchased by at least 10 countries.
✉️ Too Far: Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Yaroslavsky, a prominent figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to reject the Trump peace plan.
💻 Man Alone: Former Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett discussed his new role in the opposition during a webcast hosted by CPAC yesterday. “It’s a new experience,” he said. “Though I have to tell you that it’s much more fulfilling to actually do things than to oppose things.”
📱Big Brother: The Israeli government froze a bill allowing the Shin Bet to track coronavirus patients after the security agency expressed its objections.
📉 Out of the Box: The Bank of Israel has been drawing on alternative data including credit card spending and electricity usage to keep continuously up to date on the impact of the coronavirus economic crisis.
🗳️ Still Counting: With poll workers still tallying votes in last week’s Baltimore Democratic mayoral primary, City Council President Brandon Scott has pulled slightly ahead of former Mayor Sheila Dixon.
🏠 Hate Spreads: In California, a rock was thrown through the window of the home of San Mateo City Council member Amourence Lee, who is of Chinese-Hawaiian and Jewish heritage.
👎 Talk of the Town: A Virginia man arrested for driving through a group of protesters admitted to being a leader of the Ku Klux Klan and was charged with assault and battery among other charges.
🇦🇷 Defining Hate: The Argentinian government has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
😡 Across the Sea: Four neo-Nazi “diehards” are facing jail sentences in the U.K. for being “active members” of a banned terrorist group.
🥡 Last Meal: Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport has resigned after several accusations of racism, including a photo of him in “brownface.”
🍲 Dubai Delivery: Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, the first-ever kosher delivery service in the UAE, is officially launching in Dubai.
📺 Funny From Home: TBS is launching a new remote celebrity talent show hosted by Mayim Bialik.
👨 Transition:LGBTQ activist Arthur Slepian is set to become the next board chair of San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation.
Gif of the Day
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed off his simple lunch plate prepared for him at his office in Jerusalem on his new daily vlog yesterday.
Israel’s Minister of Defense and Alternate Prime Minister Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 61…
Comedian Jackie Mason turns 92… Harvard Shorenstein Center’s Marvin Kalb turns 90… Retired Israeli diplomat Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 83… Founding editor of Ms. MagazineLetty Cottin Pogrebin turns 81… British advertising executive Charles Saatchi turns 77… Diplomat and writer Kenneth Adelman turns 74… Commonwealth Financial Network’s Joseph Deitch turns 70… Mediator and advice columnist Wendy J. Belzberg turns 62… Producer and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 59… Lead singer of the Israeli pop rock band Mashina, Yuval Banay turns 58…
Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) Rabbi Levi Shemtov celebrates his Hebrew birthday today… Adams & Martin Group’s Craig Appelbaum turns 50… Delve’s Jeff Berkowitz turns 41… Actress Natalie Portman turns 39… Online producer Rafi Fine turns 37… Independent writer, Haley Cohen Gilliland turns 31 (h/t Playbook)… Precision Strategies’ Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 28… Ice hockey player and best-selling author of children’s books, Zachary Martin Hyman turns 28… Team Brotherly Love’s Daniel Fine turns 27… Associate at Sidley Austin Stephen Spector… Future congresswoman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Emilia Levy turns 2…