The 25-year-old Jewish day school grad setting his sights on Congress
Maryland Republican Matthew Foldi would be the youngest member of Congress — if he makes it through a grueling primary and general election
Like many Jewish candidates for public office, Matthew Foldi says his religious education inspired his foray into politics.
Unlike most of those Jewish candidates, Foldi is a mere few years removed from his Jewish schooling. The former journalist, a Republican who is running for Congress in Maryland’s 6th District to take on Rep. David Trone (D-MD), graduated from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day (JDS) School in Rockville just eight years ago. If elected, he would be the youngest member of the next session of Congress.
“It’s impossible for me to even think about a world in which I’m not Jewish,” Foldi told Jewish Insider in a recent interview at a coffee shop on Capitol Hill.
Foldi, 25, stepped down from a position as a reporter at the conservative Washington Free Beacon in April, soon after Maryland’s 2022 redistricting process was finalized with a map that surprised many by putting incumbent Trone at risk.
Foldi’s pitch to voters hinges on his reporting work at the Free Beacon, a job he held for just over a year. (He also once edited the Chadashot, Hebrew for “news,” section of the JDS student newspaper.) He has made frequent appearances on Newsmax and with Tucker Carlson on Fox News to discuss reporting that he alleges shows widespread corruption throughout several federal agencies helmed by Biden appointees.
“I’ve done an effective job of illuminating the problems. Maybe it’s time to actually be part of the solution,” he explained as his rationale for his House run. “I ran up against the limitations of what I felt like I could accomplish as a reporter.”
Every few weeks, he would publish a story at the Free Beacon with a headline like this one, from March: “Dem Offices on Cap Hill Remain Closed After Biden’s Call for Return to Normalcy.” He is bringing a similar lens to his congressional bid.
Foldi frequently shows up at Trone’s district office in Maryland to record a video or take a photo to show voters that, more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Trone’s office is not open to constituents as frequently as Foldi thinks it should be. (A Trone staff member told Politico that Foldi shows up at the office when he knows it will be closed, and that the offices are both open and fully staffed.)
“You can go to the Capitol and Dem[ocrat] offices are still closed due to COVID. My opponent’s offices are still closed due to COVID,” said Foldi. “I said, ‘Alright, we need a full-time representative.’”
Trone, who was first elected in 2018, seems to understand the precarity of his position. The co-founder and co-owner of the national liquor store chain Total Wine & More recently loaned his campaign $10 million, and he called his district — which includes all of rural and exurban Frederick County and less of heavily Democratic Montgomery County — a “swing district” in April.
Before Foldi takes on the Democrat, he has to win the Republican primary on Tuesday. Foldi has racked up endorsements from national Republican figures such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump Jr. But he trails competitor Neil Parrott, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, in fundraising. Parrott recently notched the endorsement of The Washington Post. It is unclear how Foldi might have reacted to receiving an endorsement from the region’s paper of record; in conversation with JI, he accused The Post of ideological fealty to Democrats.
“When you vote for Democrats, The Washington Post would rather self-destruct in Twitter warfare than write critically about how Biden shutting down [the] Keystone XL Pipeline probably has long-term spillover effects into skyrocketing energy costs,” he said.
Foldi does not shy away from red-meat attacks at Democrats’ expense, but he generally avoids the culture war issues that are the focus of some of his endorsers. He does not appear to have commented publicly on recent Supreme Court decisions that eliminated the right to an abortion and expanded gun rights in the U.S. He has waffled on questions around election integrity — he told The Post that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election in Maryland, while not saying whether Biden won the election overall, and he also declined to say whether he would have accepted the electoral count on Jan. 6, 2021.
“We should all feel confident that our elections are secure,” Foldi told JI, adding that he wants to require photo IDs for all voters nationwide. “But at the end of the day, I think, for me, the issues that I’m campaigning on — like inflation, like economy, like corruption, like lowering gas prices — are basically a reflection of what I think people are most concerned about.” In other words: not the 2020 election.
Despite his endorsement from Trump Jr., Foldi is no Trump acolyte — he hardly ever discusses the former president. A blog he ran while in college, titled “An Elephant in the Woods,” reveals Foldi’s distaste for Trump as a candidate. (Foldi worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign in 2015.) One April 2016 post criticized Trump’s “complete lack of policy depth.” Another post around the same time compared Trump to an obscure American political figure from the Revolutionary War era, Continental Congress delegate Robert Morris. “I personally view [Morris] as a far more beneficial contributor to America than Trump most likely ever will be,” Foldi wrote.
Foldi’s mother, Bonnie Glick, joined the Trump administration as deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2019. She was fired from the post in 2020 when she refused to say she would not transition to the incoming Biden administration.
Foldi grew up steeped in a particular world of Washington foreign policy: Glick started her career as a foreign service officer, and Foldi was also close with his aunt, Caroline Glick, an American-Israeli columnist and conservative activist.
Foldi credits his connection to Israel with launching his interest in politics. But unlike many of his Jewish classmates, Foldi is not a Democrat. (One of them, Joe Vogel, is running for the Maryland House of Delegates in a district that overlaps with the one Foldi hopes to represent in Washington.)
Foldi graduated high school in 2014, weeks before a violent conflict broke out between Hamas and Israel. He showed up to an anti-Israel protest in front of the White House with an Israeli flag tied around his neck, which he said was torn off by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
“I hadn’t realized that earlier in the day, the police had actually asked this very small group of pro-Israel counter-protesters to leave for their own safety,” he recalled. “I think it’s very important for Jewish students, and any student of any political or religious affiliation, to know that they can enter the public square in colleges and high schools and not have to fear for their life.”
In 2019, Foldi went to Israel to work for his aunt Caroline, who at the time was a candidate for the Knesset in former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party. She did not ultimately enter the Knesset when he became prime minister last year.
In 2014, Glick published a book advocating for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which Israel would continue to maintain sovereignty over the West Bank, eliminating the possibility of a separate Palestinian state, the creation of which Foldi said he does “not support.”
“That’s a decision for Israel to make,” he said. “But I would certainly never say that my own belief is that Israel should pursue a two-state solution. I think that it would ultimately — I mean, it’s designed to split Israel and make it easy to bifurcate the country and destroy it.” The Republican Party removed support for a two-state solution from its platform in 2016; Foldi is the latest of several high-profile Republican candidates to publicly disavow a Palestinian state this election cycle.
In Congress, Foldi said he plans to make support for Israel a priority. “I don’t think that the role of America is to be neutral in the Middle East. And I don’t think it’s our role to be neutral with regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he explained. “It is a conflict to which there is one party to blame, and it is the leadership of the Palestinians’ steadfast unwillingness to acknowledge the right of Jews to live in our homeland.”
Foldi accused Trone of kowtowing to far-left Democrats in Congress who oppose Israel, and who have, Foldi added, “completely taken over.”
“My opponent, David Trone, is completely silent,” Foldi told JI.
But Trone, who is not Jewish but raised his children in the faith with his Jewish wife, is known to be one of the most reliable backers of Israel in the Democratic Party. Before coming to Congress, he donated upwards of $100,000 annually to AIPAC, and claims his business is the largest retailer of Israeli wine in the U.S. — including wines from the West Bank, which Trone sells as an illustration of his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Antisemitism is not limited to the Democratic Party, Foldi acknowledged, and pledged to call it out within his party, too. “Antisemitism has no place and should have no place in either political party,” he said. “It is important to realize that both parties have blind spots on antisemitism, and we need to make sure that this is ultimately something … I think we see this across the country, it’s usually a failure of education and a failure of knowing a lot of Jews.”
Drawing on his support for Israel, Foldi plans to use his position to slow down and fight the Biden administration’s attempt to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“What we need to do is, while Democrats are in office, is hold up every single thing that they are doing to the highest level of scrutiny,” said Foldi. “Make it as painful as possible as they are negotiating [the Iran deal]. Hold up every single possible thing that they are doing. Wait out the Biden administration, and then the second a Republican takes office in 2024, take the Iran deal, put it in the shredder, set the ashes on fire and then salt the earth with them so that it can never be assembled again.”
This will be his approach to every move from Democrats, he said: Shine a light on what he views as corrupt, misguided Democratic policies; show American voters how bad the Democrats are; and elect a Republican president in 2024.
“The best way to stop inflation is to elect Republicans,” said Foldi. “Biden remains a huge obstacle towards economic prosperity for the American people. But what we can at least do from congressional majorities is prevent the worst impulses of the Biden administration, which is spend, spend, spend trillions of dollars that we don’t have, borrowing against our future, with money we don’t have and can’t afford to spend right now.”
Foldi’s message has resonated with some prominent Jewish Republicans. Hedge fund manager Paul Singer and his partner Terry Kassel both gave the maximum possible contribution to Foldi’s campaign. He also received sizable donations from Oracle CEO Safra Catz and her husband Gal Tirosh, Tikvah Fund chairman Roger Hertog and Doug Feith, who served in the Defense Department under President George W. Bush.
Foldi noted the dearth of prominent Jewish Republican elected officials, and bemoaned the fact that Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one of two Jewish Republicans in the House, is leaving Congress to run for governor of New York. (Consistently, more than two-thirds of Jewish Americans identify as Democrats.)
“It’s important for us to fill the void that he’s creating, and also be more proactive, I think, in recruiting Jewish Republicans to run for office of any kind, federal, state, local, to break that narrative of, ‘Oh, you’re Jewish, you must be a Democrat,’ or ‘Oh, you’re 25, you must be a Democrat.’” Unlike most 25-year-olds, Foldi owns a home in the suburbs. But like many Jews, that home is in Gaithersburg.
“One of the formative issues for me was thinking about Israel and foreign policy as a Jew who loves both Israel and America, and it was very clear to me that the Democratic Party is not a home,” said Foldi. “I realized I was never a liberal. I was always conservative.”