Good Thursday morning!
Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina remain too close to call in the presidential election, as Joe Biden inches closer to winning 270 electoral votes — and the Trump campaign files a series of lawsuits.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapirodismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign against his state — alleging it was hiding the counting process — as a “political document,” as Shapiro himself trails his Republican challenger, Heather Heidelbaugh, in his reelection bid.
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is reportedly seeking a “James Baker-like” figure to lead the legal effort to dispute the election results in several swing states. The New York Times also reported that Kushner contacted Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, on Tuesday night to complain about the network calling Arizona for Biden.
Michael Bloomberg’s political advisor Howard Wolfsonpushed back yesterday on the notion that the former New York City mayor’s $100 million investment in Florida, Ohio and Texas was wasted. “The goal was to help elect Joe Biden president,” he stressed. “We are well on the way to helping achieve that goal.” Bloomberg is reportedly now reconsidering any outside spending in the 2021 New York City mayoral race.
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As final House results trickle in, the other ‘Squad’ rolls to reelection victory
The House results continued to trickle in on Wednesday, while many races across the country remain undecided. With Democrats assured to maintain the majority, all that remains to be seen is how many additional seats Republicans can pick up. In a letter to House Democrats on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) acknowledged the “challenging election,” while, somewhat inaccurately, touting the Democratic success in “building our margins across the board.”
The other ‘Squad’: In Michigan, first-term Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) held onto her 8th district seat, defeating Republican opponent Paul Junge by four points. Slotkin flipped the district, which includes much of Lansing, in 2018. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) was also reelected to a second term in Virginia’s 2nd district. The former Navy nuclear engineer and “nice Jewish girl from Alabama” flipped the seat in 2018. One district over, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who ousted former Rep. David Brat (R-VA) in 2018, declared victory Wednesday afternoon over Republican opponent Nick Freitas, despite only leading by 5,200 votes. And in Pennsylvania, freshman Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) was reelected in the state’s 2nd district.
Making history: In Washington’s 10th district, former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland made history by becoming the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress and will become the first Black representative from the Pacific Northwest. Strickland, who will succeed retiring Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), defeated fellow Democrat Beth Doglio, who had received endorsements from progressive stalwarts Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Empire state: New York won’t begin counting its mail-in ballots until next week, leaving a series of close races undecided. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) appears to be headed for a victory against Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff in the state’s 1st district, and in the 2nd, Republican Andrew Garbarino is ahead of Democrat Jackie Gordon. In the 11th district, Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) continues to trail Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis by 15 points, while in the 21st district, Trump favorite Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) handily won reelection. Meanwhile, former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) currently enjoys a wide lead in the race to retake her seat in New York’s 22nd district from incumbent Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY).
Not called yet: In Pennsylvania’s 7th district, Republican Lisa Scheller leads incumbent Democratic Rep. Susan Wild 50.7% to 49.3%. In Illinois’s 14th district, Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood trails Republican Jim Oberweis with 49.8% to 50.2%, while DCCC Chairwoman Rep. Cherie Bustos leads Republican Esther Joy King 50.6% to 49.4% in the 17th. In California’s 25th district, Democrat Christy Smith is slightly ahead of Republican Mike Garcia, 50.3% to 49.7%. And in California’s 39th district, Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros is trailing Young Kim 49.7% to 50.3%.
Across the Capitol: Republican challenger John James fell short in his bid to unseat Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) in Michigan, and Democrat Sara Gideon conceded the Senate race in Maine to incumbent Rep. Susan Collins (R-ME). In North Carolina, Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is maintaining a lead over Cal Cunningham, and in Alaska, Al Gross is trailing Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) — though close to 40% of the vote there remains uncounted. It appears increasingly likely that control of the Senate will fall to the two high-profile Georgia races, in a state where candidates must secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. The special election race is assured to advance to a January 5 runoff while in the general race, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) currently holds 50% of the vote compared to Jon Ossoff’s 47.6%, with some votes still uncounted. The Senate could wind up with a 50-50 tie for only the fourth time in history — granting whomever is elected vice president the decisive vote.
See more results and previous coverage on JI’s interactive election map.
Jewish Republicans satisfied with Senate ‘firewall’ if Biden takes White House
With the outcome of the presidential election still uncertain, Jewish Republicans expressed satisfaction yesterday that the party had performed better than expected in a battle to preserve its majority in the Senate, reports Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.
Building the wall: “GOP control of the Senate is a brake on extremism,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told JI during a press call hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition. “Now you cannot abolish the filibuster, you cannot pack the courts, you cannot create new overwhelmingly Democratic states. What you have to do now is legislate, and do so in a bipartisan manner, regardless of who’s in the White House. So it’s normalcy as opposed to an open door to radicalism.”
Leading voice: Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based GOP donor and confidante of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), told JI on Wednesday morning that he’s “beyond thrilled” and “incredibly secure” that Graham will continue — “along with Ted Cruz — to be the most verbal supporter” of Israel in the Senate. “I’m very comfortable, if we’ve got 51 [GOP senators] because that’s our firewall, and that’s what we have to have to stop any… runaway agenda coming out of the [Biden] administration, if they were to win.” Zeidman added that “short of keeping the White House, I’m not near as concerned for the State of Israel as I would have been had we not kept the Senate — because I do have some real trepidation about the next administration’s leanings on the Israel issues.”
A check on Iran: Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, told JI that assuming the relationship between Netanyahu’s government and the Democrats has shifted since the Obama administration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely “save the option” of having the Republicans in control “for a desperate time — a looming agreement with Iran that doesn’t address [Israeli] concerns, for example.” A Republican Senate will have an ability to “apply unique pressure” on a Biden administration’s foreign policy, suggested Richard Goldberg, senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
next stop, washington
Tony Gonzales lays out plans for his first term in Congress
Republican Tony Gonzales pulled off a stunning upset in Texas’s 23rd congressional district on Tuesday, winning a seat that most election handicappers had anticipated would flip to the Democrats. The congressman-elect spoke with Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod yesterday about the win and his plans for his first term.
Hearts and minds:Gonzales credited his victory over Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones to his voter outreach efforts across the district, as well as his Hispanic and Catholic background. “I resonate with this district,” he said. “I think the messenger matters.” More broadly, Gonzales attributed the shift among Hispanic voters toward the GOP this cycle to faith and family values within the community, but emphasized that the Republican Party will need to continue to diversify its candidate slate to continue to expand its coalition. “The Republican Party continues to grow as long as we have diverse candidates that can reach those places that traditional Republicans hadn’t gone to before.”
Mideast expert:The former Navy cryptologist declined to say which House committees he’s angling to join, but emphasized that he is hoping to bring his cybersecurity background to bear in Congress to address geopolitical adversaries, including Iran. “You’re going to see me get on the Hill and start carving out that space,” he said. “It’s an area of expertise that is sorely lacking on Capitol Hill.” Gonzales also said he’s planning to join the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation trip to Israel for first-term members.
Time to heal: Gonzales expressed a commitment to bipartisanship and said he is seeking to help the country “heal” and “get back to regular order,” adding: “It seems like things have gotten crazy as of late. And I want to be a reasonable member, a sensible member, somebody that people are proud of. It starts by just us coming back together,” he said. “I look forward to working with all my colleagues, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum to get stuff done.”
Eric Fingerhut weighs in on the election and next steps for pandemic relief
While Americans anxiously awaited the outcome of the presidential election, Eric Fingerhut, CEO and president of the Jewish Federations of North America and a former U.S. representative, called on the next administration and Congress to provide additional pandemic relief to “ailing non-profits” and increase funding for non-profit organizations’ security needs. Fingerhut spoke with Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen yesterday about the election aftermath.
Both sides:Fingerhut — who represented Ohio’s 19th congressional district from 1993 to 1995 — said that at a time of deep divisions, he views the way that North America’s 146 Jewish federations function as a model for all Americans. “Leaders of our community, many members of JFNA’s board and at most federations, are on both sides of this election. This has always been the case,” he said. “We have always had people on both sides of the political aisle, and always been a model of how we’ve worked together on matters of common concern for Jewish life, Israel and the Jewish people around the world.”
Civility and respect:Fingerhut was quick to point out that today’s political climate bears resemblance to other tumultuous times in modern American history. “We have had very close elections in our recent past, have been very divided over very contentious issues, and we’ve gotten through,” Fingerhut told JI, adding that Jewish values have something to teach all of America at this tense time. “One of the things we have in our Jewish tradition is a commitment to civility and respect for differences of opinion. We need to exemplify that in our own behavior, and insist on it in others in public life.”
⏰ Learning Lessons:In Foreign Policy, Neri Zilber offers some lessons for Americans from Israelis who recently suffered through more than a year of political uncertainty. “Americans should be thankful that a repeat election isn’t an option in the U.S. electoral process.” [ForeignPolicy]
🤝 Living Legacy:Former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk writes in The Wall Street Journal about the “strategic legacy” of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, positing that “it still isn’t too late to redeem his legacy by returning to a gradual process of Israeli separation from the Palestinians.” [WSJ]
👴 History Bites: In the Wall Street Journal, Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy examine the ways in which Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy has been contorted to fit political narratives surrounding the peace process. “As Jews, the world experts at turning tragedies into nation-building opportunities, we should have used Rabin’s monstrous murder to restore unity and strengthen democracy. Unfortunately, partisan furies overpowered metaphysical hopes.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🇧🇭 Final Stamp:The Knesset is set to debate and vote to ratify Israel’s normalization deal with Bahrain on Tuesday.
🚜 Razed: The Israeli army demolished an entire Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley yesterday, which it alleged was illegally built in an IDF training zone.
🤳 Coming Soon:Apple is planning to launch its Apple Pay mobile payment service in Israel, after resolving previous disagreements with local financial institutions over its fees.
🗳️ Values Vote:Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman told CNBC yesterday that he voted for Biden based on “my values and not my pocketbook.”
📊 Losing Faith:David Graham writes in The Atlantic about the successive failures of the polling and poll analysis industry in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
👮♂️ Outgoing: The former Kentucky police commissioner defended the use of Hitler quotes in police training materials, a week after he was forced to resign over the scandal.
🕯️ Remembering: Baron Wolman, the first photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, died at age 83. Helen Lachs Ginsburg, an economist and labor activist, died at age 91. Elsa Raven, the “Back to the Future” star born Elsa Rabinowitz, died at age 91.
Pic of the Day
A military police officer guards the Stadttempel synagogue in Vienna, Austria, following the deadly shooting in the area earlier this week.
The city’s Jewish community is shaken and on high alert after the attack on Monday that started out near a kosher restaurant.
Founder and CEO of FCancer, a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer, she also founded Motherlucker, Yael Cohen Braun turns 34…
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