Good Tuesday morning!
Today is primary election day in five states: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.
A number of outlets including CNN and The New York Times appeared to suggest that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is facing a tough primary challenge today from Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, despite recent polling — as first reported in Jewish Insider — that shows Tlaib leading Jones by 28 points.
Jamaal Bowman, who defeated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) in New York’s 16th congressional district, claimed yesterday that the endorsement he received from former President Barack Obama came after the former president read Bowman’s response to Rabbi Avi Weiss’s query on his Israel stance.
Rabbi Weiss tells us that “perhaps” Obama didn’t read the original letter he sent to Bowman. “Is President Obama aware that Mr. Bowman says aid to Israel should be conditional, is soft on his opposition to BDS (as his letter implies he would have voted against a bill in Congress entitled ‘Opposing Efforts to Delegitimize the State of Israel and the Local Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel’) and has not indicated his support for the Taylor Force Act?” Weiss asked rhetorically in an email to JI. Read more here.
Last night, Miami real estate developer Michael Adler and Hilco Global’s Jeffrey Hecktman hosted a small virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden.
On Capitol Hill, Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special representative for Venezuela, will testify on the situation in Venezuela before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning.
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Alex Lasry convinced the DNC to pick Milwaukee — then COVID hit
For Alex Lasry, 2020 was supposed to be the year of Milwaukee. The 33-year-old had high hopes for his adopted city, scheduled to host the Democratic National Convention — the bid for which he chaired — beginning August 17. On top of that, the Milwaukee Bucks clinched the playoffs in February, giving hometown pride to Milwaukeeans who haven’t celebrated a basketball championship since 1971. Lasry, who serves as the Bucks’ senior vice president, was riding high.
Change of plans: Then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. The NBA is now finishing out its postseason in a tightly sealed Orlando bubble, while the Bucks’ Fiserv Forum, where the DNC was set to take place, is a virtual ghost town as the downsized presidential convention has been relocated to a smaller venue. “It sucks,” Lasry declared bluntly in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. “There’s no way around it, but there are bigger issues and bigger concerns.”
Background: Lasry, the DNC host committee’s finance chair, previously worked in former President Barack Obama’s administration under senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. A New York native, he moved to Milwaukee six years ago when his father, the billionaire hedge fund manager and Democratic bundler Marc Lasry, became a co-owner of the Bucks. “I didn’t know a ton about Milwaukee before I moved here, but once I got here, I fell in love with the city,” Lasry enthused.
Personal note: He also found love of another sort. Lasry proposed to Lauren Markowitz, the interim chief of staff at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, last May, shortly after Milwaukee was chosen to host the DNC. They were scheduled to get married on March 28 of this year at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, but were forced to postpone their wedding until 2021 due to the pandemic.
Staying hopeful: Lasry is still trying to raise money for the DNC, and would like to attend, though the four-day convention is a mostly virtual affair. More than anything, Lasry wants viewers who tune into the DNC to witness the Milwaukee that he has come to appreciate over the past half-decade. “Ever since I moved here, it’s been a city that I love, that I’ve made my home,” he said. “And I just want people to see the Milwaukee that I see.”
Primary races to keep your eye on today
Voters in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state head to the polls today. Here is JI’s guide to some of the races to watch as results trickle in.
Arizona: Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for Senate today, and will take on Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in November. In the state’s 6th congressional district, former ER doctor Hiral Tipirneni is making her third run for Congress, but her first in the district. In today’s Democratic primary, Tipirneni will have to beat Anita Malik, who in 2018 won the nomination but lost the election, in order to take on incumbent Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) in November. Read more here.
Michigan: In the 13th district, freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) will seek to fend off a primary challenge from Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. A recent poll shows Jones trailing Tlaib by 28 percentage points. In the state’s 3rd district, the seat being vacated by Republican-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash is being contested by Republicans Peter Meijer and Lynn Afendoulis, who are the top contenders in today’s GOP primary. In Michigan’s 11th congressional district, Eric Esshaki, the son of an Iraqi Chaldean Catholic immigrant, is vying for the Republican nomination for Congress. Esshaki told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod that the Trump administration should do more to allow persecuted Christian minorities to immigrate to the United States. Read more of the interview with Esshaki here.
Missouri: In Missouri’s 1st congressional district, longtime incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) has targeted his primary challenger Cori Bush over her support for the BDS movement, reports JI’s Marc Rod. In mailers sent out in the final days of the campaign, Clay touts his own record on Israel and criticizes Bush for failing to speak out against antisemitism. Read more here.
11 ON THE FIELD
Senate GOP primary comes down to the wire in Kansas
Despite his extensive ties to white nationalists, Kris Kobach is a leading contender in today’s crowded Senate primary in Kansas, featuring no fewer than 11 Republican candidates jockeying to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). Kobach’s presence in the race has alarmed establishment Republicans, some of whom view his candidacy as potentially disastrous for the party, report JI’s Marc Rod and Matthew Kassel.
Bad reputation: Kobach, the former secretary of state of Kansas and a current Breitbart columnist, has accepted donations from white nationalists, paid an individual who posted racist comments on a white nationalist website and allegedly employed three other white nationalists during his failed gubernatorial campaign in 2018. “Kris Kobach is an anti-immigrant bigot who spoke in 2015 at an event organized by a publisher that routinely elevates the writings of white supremacists,” an ADL spokesperson told JI, referring to Kobach’s appearance at an event hosted by the Social Contract Press, founded by white nationalist John Tanton. “He has also championed the baseless conspiracy theory about rampant voter fraud in the 2016 election, and has been credibly accused of promoting legislation that engages in racial profiling.”
Too close to call: Even with Kobach’s recent surge, the race remains tight. Political scientists told JI that with little polling data available, it’s unclear who currently leads the Republican field, though Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) has emerged alongside Kobach as one of the stronger candidates in the race, along with plumbing company executive Bob Hamilton. “The best guess is that it’s some kind of coin flip, probably between Kobach and Marshall,” said Patrick R. Miller, a professor in the department of political science at the University of Kansas. Despite pressure to publicly back Marshall, President Donald Trump has withheld an endorsement.
Of note: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly advocated for former senator and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for the seat, despite repeated rejections from Pompeo. Now, a McConnell-aligned super PAC is spending $1.2 million to boost Marshall. Meanwhile, Kobach’s campaign has been buoyed by billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel, who has pumped $850,000 into a super PAC supporting the insurgent candidate.
🇨🇳 Beijing Battle:The Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran and Peter Rough write in Tablet magazine about China’s drive to attain supremacy in the Middle East, where it is “actively working to oust the United States” at a time when both Israel and Saudi Arabia recognize that “America’s staying power is uncertain.” [Tablet]
🎒 Learning Lessons: In The New York Times, Isabel Kershner and Pam Belluck spotlight the “major failure” of Israel’s school reopening in late May, leading to outbreak spikes. An early summer heatwave led to a short-term exemption on school mask-wearing that “proved disastrous.” [NYTimes]
✍️ Tough ‘Get’: Carly Stern writes in The Lily about the additional challenges facing Orthodox Jewish women seeking a divorce amid the pandemic, including the creative challenges in assembling a “socially distant Jewish divorce.” [TheLily]
🙏 Following Faith: In Politico, Rikha Sharma Rani explores the small but growing number of evangelical Christian congressional candidates in the Democratic Party, who face challenges in winning over both religious and secular voters. [Politico]
Around the Web
🚦 Ready to Go:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a private meeting with party members on Monday that annexation is “not off the table” and is just awaiting a green light from the Trump administration. But Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar said yesterday that annexation will likely be postponed until at least after the U.S. presidential election.
🥒 No Regrets:In an interview with Haaretz, Seth Rogen claimed that Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog misrepresented their private conversation following the actor’s controversial comments on Israel last week.
⛔ No Bueno: Bret Stephens writes in his New York Times column that the idea of a one-state solution in Israel “is utopian in theory and would be disastrous in practice.”
💥 Hitting Back: The IDF struck several sites in Syria yesterday after a thwarted attack along the border.
🇮🇷 Waiting Game: A new report by the Center for a New American Security, co-authored by Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official, proposes a phased approach to easing tensions between the U.S. and Iran after November no matter who wins.
🙊 Words Matter: Alison Greene, a former employee of the Israeli-owned El Ad Group, filed a lawsuit against executive vice president William Harvey for making Holocaust denial comments.
🛠️ Building Blocks: Fox Business’s Ann Schmidt details how Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot after they were fired from Handy Dan Home Improvement in 1978.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: A new study found that antisemitic beliefs among British Muslims were reduced when they had closer integration with British Jews.
📺 Hollywood:Amazon Prime renewed “Hunters,” the Nazi-hunting drama starring Al Pacino, for a second season.
💻 Keep Browsing: Bagels.tv, which offers a treasure-trove of kosher video content, is being promoted as an alternative to YouTube for Jewish families.
🍱 Sky Snack: The Israel-based Tamam Kitchen, which provides meals to El Al and other airlines, is selling trays of food directly to consumers as a low-cost delivery option.
🕯️ Remembering: Sue Epstein, a veteran crime reporter for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, died at age 68.
Song of the Day
New York Hasidic soul band Zusha is out with a new single “Tuv Ta’am,” a song describing the sweetness of the Torah.
Placekicker for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Greg Joseph turns 26…
Casino magnate and philanthropist, Sheldon Adelson turns 87… Professor emerita at Yeshiva University, Dr. Ellen Schrecker turns 82… Head of the rabbinical court of Mekor Haim in Queens, N.Y., Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Haim turns 80… President at Salco Mechanical, Michael Salzberg turns 77… Former member of the Knesset, Yael German turns 73… SVP for growth at the Anti-Defamation League, Frederic Lewis Bloch turns 68… Mathematics professor, Sheldon Dan turns 65… Long-time member of the Knesset for Likud, Silvan Shalom turns 62… 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama turns 59… Executive producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” Michael Gelman turns 59… Administrative manager at Edelman, Helen Lapkovsky turns 57…
Editor-in-chief of PwC’s management magazine “strategy+business,” Daniel Gross turns 53… Editor-in-chief of Cuepoint at Medium, Jonathan Shecter (also known as Shecky Green) turns 52… Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) turns 50… Broadcast meteorologist at WJLA-TV in Washington, DC, Steven Rudin turns 49… Washington director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block turns 48… Editor of the Washingtonian, Michael Schaffer turns 47… Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay turns 48… CEO of Aspiration, Andrei Cherny turns 45… Assistant director in the geostrategic business group at EY, Ben-Ari Boukai turns 30… Senior enterprise account executive at Riskified, Jonathan Keyson turns 28… Natalie Roberts… Evelyn Murphy…
BIRTHWEEK: Executive editor of the Washington Examiner magazine, Seth Mandel turns 38…