Good Tuesday morning!
We are finally here. Happy Election Day! Close to 100 million Americans have already cast their votes.
Over the course of the 2020 election cycle, we havepublished interviews with 168 individual candidates running for national office. This includes 131 House candidates and 26 Senate candidates since October 2019 and 11 presidential candidates since May 2019.
We also created an interactive map of the country broken down by congressional districts, which features 185 endorsements from eight different groups, 32 candidates who completed JI’s questionnaire and position papers obtained and published from an additional 31 candidates.
Our team at Jewish Insider has worked hard to cover these races early and often and introduce the candidates and their policy positions to you over the past year. More to come and follow us on Twitter for election updates throughout the day and evening.
Vienna’s Jewish community is on edge — and locked down — after a terrorist attack in the city killed at least four people and included shootings near the city’s main synagogue. There are no known Jewish casualties in the attack.
Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch told Jewish Insidershe will depart next week for her first official foreign trip since taking office, to spend three days meeting with members of the Jewish community in Los Angeles.
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JI’s guide to the dozen matchups to monitor this Election Day
Around the country today, Americans will cast their votes in federal, state and local elections — if they haven’t already. With millions of mail-in ballots to count, many Senate and House races could take time to be officially called, especially those predicted to come down to very narrow margins. Here are some of the key races Jewish Insider has covered closely this year and will be watching today:
Southern California: Open seats in the 50th and 53rd congressional districts have led to competitive races to replace Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Susan Davis (D-CA). In the 50th, former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a narrow lead over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, in a race where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a sticking point for the two Arab-American candidates. In the 53rd, San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez and Sara Jacobs, both Democrats, have tussled over their progressive bona fides, with Gomez earning the endorsement of Justice Democrats, but de facto losing the group’s support after going public with her pro-Israel positions.
Nebraska 2nd: Will Kara Eastman bring home the Bacon this year? Democrat Eastman is challenging Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) for the second time, after losing in 2018 by two percentage points.
New Jersey 2nd: In the southern portion of the state, former Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) — who switched parties earlier this year — is locked in a tight race against Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
New York 1st: One thing is for certain: The next representative from New York’s 1st congressional district will be Jewish. Three-term Rep. Lee Zeldin — one of two Jewish Republicans in the House — is being challenged by college chemistry professor Nancy Goroff.
Texas 10th: Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is being challenged by Mike Siegel, a progressive Democrat who lost the 2018 race to McCaul by five percentage points.
Alaska Senate:In Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) holds a slight lead over Al Gross, the former orthopedic surgeon and commercial fisherman who entered the race as an independent. A Sullivan ad over the weekend featuring Gross holding a wad of cash generated controversy and condemnation.
North Carolina 11th: Republican political upstart Madison Cawthorn, 25, is facing off against retired Air Force General and Democrat Moe Davis, 62, for the once reliably red seat vacated by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) when he became Trump’s chief of staff — now in play after a handful of controversies surrounding Cawthorn’s resumè and social media postings.
Arizona Senate: Former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), has held a steady lead over incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) over months of polling in Arizona’s special Senate election to finish out the term of the late Sen. John McCain.
South Carolina Senate: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is fighting to keep his seat representing the historically red state amid a serious challenge from Jaime Harrison, a lobbyist and Democratic operative who has never held elected office.
Georgia:Both Senate elections — the regular election between Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Jon Ossoff, and the crowded special election to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) — are expected to be close, with the special election race almost certain to head to a run-off in January. That race will see Pastor Raphael Warnock, businessman Matt Lieberman, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) — who was chosen to replace Isakson earlier this year — battle for the chance to finish out Isakson’s term.
Michigan Senate: Republican candidate John James, an African-American Iraq War veteran, is challenging incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) in a closely watched race that has drawn the attention of national GOP leaders — and a $4.6 million cash infusion last week for James from the Senate Leadership Fund.
The Silicon Valley VC who decamped to Wisconsin to get out the vote
Not too long ago, venture capitalist Roy Bahat, who runs Bloomberg Beta in San Francisco and is active in Democratic politics, concluded that the stakes were too high this election to sit back and watch from a dependably blue state. So in September, he moved with his wife and two kids to Whitefish Bay, a suburb of Milwaukee, to help get out the vote. “We just realized that our time is better spent in a swing state than it is in California,” Bahat told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel yesterday. “Once we started talking about that, we realized that if we thought about doing it, talked with our kids about it, decided not to do it, and then the worst happens, shame on us for the example we’d be setting for our children.”
Why Wisconsin: Bahat’s decision to relocate to the Badger State for three months or so may seem peculiar given that Wisconsin is now experiencing a massive spike in coronavirus cases and is not widely known for its inviting autumn weather. Couldn’t Bahat have set up shop in another battleground state with a more temperate climate, like Florida or Arizona? But no, Wisconsin made the most sense. Bahat’s wife, Sara Fenske Bahat, a Milwaukee native who chairs the MBA program at the California College of the Arts, has long been active in supporting the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. This cycle, the couple felt it was imperative to get involved on the ground in a key swing state that President Donald Trump carried by a narrow margin in 2016.
Walking the vote: Since he arrived in Wisconsin, Bahat has been busy fundraising for Wisconsin Democrats as well as volunteering for Walk the Vote, a nationwide grassroots endeavor that organizes local “parades” so voters can deliver their ballots to nearby drop boxes amid concerns that votes will not be counted if they are not submitted on time. “You can do as many of them as you want in New York and California,” said Bahat, who voted in Wisconsin this year, “you’re not going to change who wins the national office.” Bahat made sure to point out that his advocacy on behalf of the Democratic Party is independent of his Walk the Vote work because the group is nonpartisan.
New perspective: The experience of living in a crucial swing state in the weeks leading up to one of the most consequential elections in American history has been eye-opening for Bahat. “It’s obviously a very different feel than being in a coastal city,” he told JI. “This is a place that has struggled economically and is now doing well. It’s a place where the struggles over race and wealth inequality are front and center. And it’s a rare place where you see Biden and Trump signs lawn next to lawn, and people who are friends and neighbors feeling really differently about this race. So in that way, it’s kind of emblematic of what’s happening in America.”
Bonus: Ahead of Election Day, the Biden campaign released an extensive list of more than 800 of its biggest fundraisers — who brought in $100,000 or more for the campaign — featuring a number of well-known figures in the Jewish community. Those include Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, lawyer Marc Stanley, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Florida agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried. Read more highlighted names here.
Former Rep. Ed Royce urges Congress to move fast on Sudan deal
ormer chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) praised an agreement signed at the State Department last week that ensures Sudan will pay $335 million to the families of the Americans killed in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania — in exchange for being removed from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. Royce spoke with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh about his views of the deal.
Details: The agreement, signed Friday and announced on Monday, is part of a normalization deal between Sudan and Israel facilitated by the Trump administration. The compensation has been put in an escrow account pending the rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation and congressional legislation that would restore its immunities to the country’s new transitional government. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has threatened to block the legislation if the deal does not also address claims against the African nation from victims of the September 11 attacks.
Seize the moment: In a recent interview with JI, Royce, who served as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2018, called the agreement “an extraordinary diplomatic achievement” for the Trump administration “and for the national security interests of the U.S. But also a measure of justice for the families that have waited over 20 years for this day to come.” Royce, who now serves as policy director at the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law and lobbying firm and represents the families of the 1998 bombing victims, warned of an “unfortunate outcome” if Congress does not seize the moment to sign off on the agreement’s implementation. “Sudan says they won’t hold that money indefinitely for the victims and the family members of those who lost their lives in the attacks,” he explained.
The price of inaction: Royce also expressed concern that if the deal falls apart, the progress made on diplomatic relations between Israel and Sudan could be at risk. He also warned that a delay could push Sudan to draw back and strengthen its relationship with Iran, pointing out that Sudan served for years as a route for the transfer of weaponry from Iran to its proxies in the Middle East, including Hamas in Gaza. “The fact [is] that now, instead of being an ally for Iran, we have a government which is hostile to the actions that Iran took, starting with the intelligence services in Iran that helped undermine and overthrow that government 30 years ago,” Royce asserted. “And so this is of enormous significance in terms of changing the momentum that we’ve seen reversing in the region against Iran.”
Bonus: Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen toldReuters that progress on more normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries could depend on the next president’s “resolve” against Iran.
📣 Speaking Out: In an interview with New York Times reporter Peter Baker, 99-year-old former Secretary of State George Shultz criticized Donald Trump’s approach to international affairs as the world faces a pivotal point — like the one it faced at the end of World War II — that requires the renewal of American leadership and international engagement. [NYTimes]
📲 Deep Dive: Wall Street Journal reporters Benjamin Mullin and Lillian Rizzo take a closer look at how Quibi, the mobile streaming platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, struggled to meet expectations and failed to inspire consumers. [WSJ]
✍️ Don’t Forget:Historian and author Gil Troy warned in a Jewish Journal column against “the 1619-ing of American Jewry,” which could “eviscerate whatever Jewishness remains within them while erasing the proud Americanism that has made American Jewry rich, proud, free, and happy.” [JewishJournal]
📊 Tracking Hate: In MIT’s Technology Review, Tate Ryan-Mosley explores how antisemitism became an “electoral tactic” during the 2020 election cycle, including “campaigns often pitting Jewish Americans against other groups of voters” and the “vilification of Jewish political figures.” [TechReview]
Around the Web
🌍 Turtle Bay:At the United Nations on Monday, more than 70 countries, including France, the U.K., Canada, Japan and Argentina, expressed their opposition to the Trump administration’s efforts to sanction the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
📺 Media Watch:The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports that Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is considering backing a pro-Trump media platform if the president is defeated.
⚰️ Vandalism: Several headstones at the Ahavas Israel Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were found vandalized with pro-Trump messages hours before the president’s late-night rally in the city.
🙏🏻 Final Prayer: Israeli settler leaders convened a prayer service for Trump’s reelection at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. A poll released yesterday showed 63% of Israelis prefer Trump to Biden.
🧪 Talk of the Town: Some New York officials and health experts suspect that the dramatic drop in the positive COVID-19 rate in Kiryas Joel is due to community leadership discouraging symptomatic patients from getting tested.
👎 Pink Slip:The Palm Beach County School Board voted unanimously to rescind an earlier vote to rehire William Latson, the former principal of Spanish River High in Boca Raton, who was fired for controversial remarks about the Holocaust.
🎓 Campus Beat: Officials at the University of Connecticut are investigating a series of antisemitic incidents on campus.
🛣️ Across the Pond:London Mayor Sadiq Khan shelved a plan to extend the city’s congestion charge that would have split North London’s Jewish community in Hendon and Golders Green and affected prayer services.
Song of the Day
Israeli singer Sarit Hadad has released a new single, “When It’s All Over” — featuring her daughter, Noya — about all the post-COVID experiences she is longing for.
Major League Baseball pitcher with more career victories (174) than any other Jewish pitcher, Ken Holtzman turns 75…
Chancellor emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Ismar Schorsch, Ph.D. turns 85… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, professor at Yale University, James Rothman turns 70… Rabbi emeritus at Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Illinois, Paul Caplan turns 68… Actress, comedian, writer, and television producer, Roseanne Barr turns 68… Comedian and talk show host, Dennis Miller turns 67… Author, manuscript editor and lecturer, Elliot Jager, Ph.D. turns 66… Award-winning Israeli photographer, Naomi Leshem turns 57… Regional director of development for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jeanne Epstein turns 56… Entrepreneur In Residence at Loeb Enterprises II, Edward Stelzer turns 52… VP for federal affairs at CVS Health, Amy Rosenbaum turns 49… Founder of AKM Consulting, Amie Kershner turns 42… Agent at Creative Artists Agency, Rachel Elizabeth Adler turns 37… Actress who won three Daytime Emmy Awards for her role on ABC’s “General Hospital,” Julie Berman turns 37… Executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, Yael Averbuch turns 34… New York State Senate candidate in the 46th district, Michelle Hinchey turns 33… Applied data scientist lead at Civis Analytics, Ben Kirshner turns 28… Director of media outreach at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Noy Assraf turns 25… Actress and model, Diana Silvers turns 23… Stu Rosenberg…