👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on upcoming high-stakes Senate primaries and cover a Holocaust remembrance event held on Capitol Hill. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Rep. Kathy Manning, Bernie Moreno and Sen. Mitt Romney.
The biggest ideological divides in our politics are increasingly taking place within the Democratic and Republican parties as much as between them.
Early developments in several of the most closely watched Senate races only underscore the gulf between mainstream Republicans and Democrats and populist progressives and right-wingers — and what that means for key issues facing the Jewish community.
In Pennsylvania, GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano is seriously considering running for the Senate, just months after losing the governor’s race by 15 points in a swing state. Mastriano faced bipartisan criticism for his ties to the founder of the social media platform Gab, widely seen as a cesspool of bigotry and antisemitism.
As Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel has reported, Mastriano has misappropriated Jewish iconography to advance his political aims. At his campaign launch event last year, Mastriano appeared with a pastor dressed in a tallit who blew the shofar. He also has a history of invoking the Holocaust when talking about his political opponents and policies with which he disagrees.
Republican leaders are already rallying around the potential candidacy of businessman David McCormick, a mainstream Republican who narrowly lost last year’s Senate primary to Dr. Mehmet Oz.
In Montana, there’s a growing possibility of a primary clash between GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale, who introduced legislation barring American support for Ukraine until the U.S.-Mexico border is secure, and a candidate preferred by the party establishment (likely businessman and military veteran Tim Sheehy).
Rosendale recently was roundly criticized for posing for a photo with neo-Nazis outside the Capitol — a move for which he quickly apologized.
He raised just $127,000 for his reelection campaign, a sign that he’s not generating much enthusiasm either from grassroots donors or big donors alike. Rosendale was one of the final GOP holdouts against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
But Rosendale has been a longtime ally of the well-funded anti-tax group Club for Growth, which has signaled it would support him if he runs for Senate.
And on the Democratic side, in California’s high-stakes Senate primary, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has been an occasional antagonist to pro-Israel groups — in contrast to the more-supportive records of Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA).
As the lone lawmaker to oppose military intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11, Lee has been a long-standing critic of American foreign policy from the left.
She has signed on to legislation that would place restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel and was among a small group of House members who voted against a resolution condemning the BDS movement.
In Washington, USAID Administrator Samantha Power and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are back on the Hill today for budget hearings with the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, respectively.
Over in Israel, the three-day Extraordinary World Zionist Congress (yes, that’s what it’s really called) begins today at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, with more than 2,000 Jewish leaders and youths from Israel and around the world set to attend to mark the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
Topics to be discussed at the event include strengthening the relationship between the various segments of the Jewish people, and the challenges of Zionism today, the World Zionist Organization said. Israeli President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to attend.
Manning: ‘Double standard’ involved in some colleagues’ criticisms of Israel’s judicial reform
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) said on Tuesday evening that double standards may be involved in some of her colleagues’ criticisms of Israel’s judicial reform efforts, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Letter writing: Manning, speaking at a Zoom event with Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania last night, told audience members that she’d been asked to sign onto several of the letters criticizing the judicial reform effort. “One of the things that I think to myself is… [Indian] Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is taking actions that I think are antidemocratic in his country; nobody’s asked me to sign on[to] a letter [telling] him what to do. There’s a lot of activity going on in France, [President Emmanuel] Macron is very unpopular right now for what he’s doing for social security; nobody’s asked me to sign on[to] a letter telling Emmanuel Macron what he should be doing in his country,” Manning said.
Double standard: “So I think that the double standard is something that we have to be thinking about on a regular basis,” she continued.
Israeli democracy: Manning added that the protests against the judicial overhaul in Israel, rather than validating criticisms of the Jewish state, demonstrate it is a “remarkably thriving democracy.” “We’ve seen, what, eight weeks of protest now? Hundreds of thousands of people protesting in the streets to maintain a democracy,” she noted. “No one has been killed. No one has been significantly injured. There is an incredible democracy in Israel, and anybody who’s calling it out — using this as an excuse to demonize Israel is using a double standard.”
Bernie Moreno’s Senate candidacy to test MAGA strength in Ohio
Ohio has become a Trump-friendly state over the last eight years, and the political evolution of newly minted Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno is an illustration of MAGA being the new normal for the GOP, writes Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel. Moreno, a Cleveland businessman who briefly ran for an open Senate seat in Ohio last election cycle, said on Tuesday that he will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in one of the most pivotal Senate races for Republicans on the battleground map.
Moreno’s metamorphosis: Moreno’s announcement cements his ideological conversion from an establishment GOP donor to a MAGA-oriented Republican who is now strongly positioned to notch the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. “I’m running for U.S. Senate because I’ve had enough of the insider politicians in both parties selling us out,” Moreno, the second GOP candidate to jump in after state Sen. Matt Dolan, declared on social media — calling for “a new generation of political outsiders with some spine to put America First.”
Playing the long game: Even as he once privately expressed skepticism of Trump, Moreno, 56, has worked to ingratiate himself to the former president. Early last year, he agreed to withdraw from a crowded GOP primary after meeting with Trump, concluding that the race was filled with “too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat,” he said in a statement at the time. Such deference appears to have paid off. Moreno, a wealthy businessman from Colombia, is now winning plaudits from some of the most important political leaders, including Trump.
Reading the movement: Regarding Moreno’s ideological shift, Ric Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence under Trump, said approvingly that the Cleveland-based entrepreneur “knows how to read the movement” and is “not stuck in his own beliefs.” Grenell, who has joined Moreno’s campaign as a co-chair, declined to comment on the prospect of a Trump endorsement but hinted at a symbiosis between Moreno’s campaign and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), who also expressed criticism of the former president before channeling a more hard-right persona. “The kitchen cabinet working with Bernie are all very big fans of J.D. Vance,” Grenell said.
‘Strong on the issues’: Jewish leaders in Ohio, meanwhile, expressed a largely positive view of Moreno’s approach to Israel and the Middle East. “In terms of a record there’s not much to speak of, but from everything I’ve heard about him, he’s strong on the issues we care about,” Jason Wuliger, a former board member of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, told JI. Speaking more broadly of Moreno, Brad Kastan, a Jewish Republican fundraiser in Columbus, added, “We’ve seen candidates the last couple of cycles who, I think, come across as angry, and he certainly is not that.”
ON THE HILL
Lawmakers, Holocaust survivors join together for commemoration event on Capitol Hill
More than 20 lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), joined together with several Holocaust survivors on Tuesday morning for an event on Capitol Hill in honor of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Remembering: Reps. David Kustoff (R-TN) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) hosted their colleagues for an emotional event that included remarks from Holocaust survivor Rachel Mutterperl Goldfarb, a candlelighting, a recitation of names of Jews who died in the Holocaust and remarks by Stuart Eizenstat, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Leader remarks: Scalise reflected on his own conversations with Holocaust survivors and visits to the sites of Nazi atrocities and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. “It’s overwhelming, sometimes, but to talk to people who were there and experienced it, saw it, saw loved ones die, and then made it through it. It’s important for all of us, because it’s something that we need to continue to share with others,” Scalise said. “It’s important that we continue this remembrance because if we don’t, and we don’t continue to speak out, then further atrocities will happen.”
Also in attendance: Other attendees included Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), David Cicilline (D-RI), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Tom Kean (R-NJ), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jen Kiggans (R-VA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Carol Miller (R-WV).
New legislation: Later on Tuesday, Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Gottheimer introduced legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor, to Americans who helped rescue and resettle Holocaust refugees. Proposed honorees enumerated in a press release include former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, former Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., Former Interior Secretary Harold Ickes and former Rep. Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. (D-MD), who is the father of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), although no specific honorees are named in the legislation itself.
BEEHIVE STATE UPDATE
Facing potential GOP challenger, Romney’s Senate future in question
Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) meager first-quarter fundraising report is fueling questions about whether the moderate Republican, who has found himself increasingly out of step with his party and could face serious primary challengers, will seek reelection in 2024, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Dying breed: The 76-year-old first-term senator was elected in 2018, having previously served as the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and the GOP presidential nominee in 2012. Romney has represented the shrinking faction of pragmatists within the Republican Party as a longtime critic of former President Donald Trump and as a bulwark against other right-wing forces in the party. He voted twice to convict Trump in his impeachment trials; more than a dozen other Republicans who supported impeachment were successfully primaried or retired in the 2022 cycle.
Status update: Romney announced last week that he raised just $112,000 in the first quarter of 2023, shortly after Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson’s announcement that he is exploring a primary bid for the Senate seat in 2024. Recent polling found that more than half of Utah Republicans don’t want Romney to run for a second term. Asked yesterday about Wilson’s potential bid, Romney said, “come on in, the water’s fine,” HuffPost reported. The Utah senator’s chief of staff, Liz Johnson, told Jewish Insider that the senator has not yet made a decision on running for a second term. “As the Senator has said, he will make a final decision in the coming months. In the meantime, we’re ensuring he’s well prepared to run if he chooses,” Johnson said in a statement.
Looking ahead: Matthew Burbank, a political science professor at the University of Utah, told JI that many in Utah are questioning Romney’s political future. “What we’ve seen from him so far is he’s made the minimal sort of efforts to pursue reelection, but he hasn’t done so very wholeheartedly,” Burbank explained. “He hasn’t announced that he’s going to [run], he hasn’t done any push in terms of fundraising,” Burbank added, also noting that Romney hasn’t communicated his plans to other potential candidates “who he might like to have run for that seat if he’s not going to.”
💲 Aid Assessment: In The Hill, Danielle Pletka, a distinguished senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, calls on the Biden administration to reassess its aid programs to countries in the Middle East. “Since 1946, the United States has disbursed more than $350 billion (in 2021 dollars) in assistance to the Middle East. Of that, the lion’s share has gone to Israel and Egypt, but the region as a whole represents the single largest geographical chunk of the U.S. foreign assistance budget… The rationale for this enormous spend is ancient history, at least in foreign policy terms. Israel’s aid has ramped up dramatically since the early 1970s, when the Jewish state was under constant siege from its Arab neighbors and the broader Arab League. Egypt’s aid program is rooted in the 1979 Camp David Accords that ended the state of war between Israel and Egypt, marking the first Arab-Israeli peace accord. Jordan now ranks above Egypt in bilateral U.S. assistance, because of another aid program that increased with the 1994 Jordanian peace with Israel. And U.S. financial support for the Palestinians goes back to the 1993 Oslo Accords that resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority. So, what exactly have these countries done for us lately?“ [The Hill]
🏀 Finding Shaq: Intelligencer’s Matt Stieb highlights the lengths it took to track down former NBA player and sports analyst Shaquille O’Neal for a lawsuit filed in November on behalf of the former clients of FTX, which accused celebrity spokespeople with sponsorship deals for helping defraud investors at the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange. “It’s normally not too hard to find Shaquille O’Neal. Over seven feet tall and north of 300 pounds during his playing days, he is one of the biggest centers to take the court in the history of the NBA. He’s also all over the place on TV, doing post-game analysis for TNT and ads for the 30-or-so companies he says he has endorsement deals with. Shaq, though, has been a hard man to find for Adam Moskowitz, the lead attorney on a class-action lawsuit filed in November on behalf of the former clients of FTX, accusing celebrity spokespeople with sponsorship deals for helping defraud investors at the disgraced cryptocurrency exchange. In a recent court filing, Moskowitz claimed he has attempted to serve the hall-of-fame basketball player and Kazaam star dozens of times at several of his houses. (A judge denied his request to serve Shaq on Twitter and Instagram.) But after hiring a private investigator last month, Moskowitz got his man: Earlier this week, the attorney announced that Shaq had been served at his home in Atlanta. ‘The good news is his home video cameras recorded our service,’ Moskowitz said in a statement.” [Intelligencer]
🕊️ ‘Ugly Peace’: The Washington Post’s David Ignatius looks to the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East and the role the U.S. has in that. “The Middle East has been a conflict zone for most of our lives; now, an age of deconfliction may be dawning — with the sad exception of the unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The new operating system can be summarized in four words: Make friends, make money. This moment is about settling quarrels. The Saudis, with Chinese help, are normalizing relations with Iran. The UAE has stopped feuding with Turkey and Qatar. The Arabs (holding their noses) are reviving relations with Assad. China gets credit for brokering the Saudi-Iran deal. But, really, the animating force in the region is the UAE, the architect of “no-problem” foreign policy. The Biden administration is rediscovering diplomacy, too, after decades of American wars in the region. We’re brokering deals with Iraqis, Lebanese, Emiratis, Kurds, Saudis and maybe, eventually, some Syrians, too. Some of our partners are distasteful, but that’s part of diplomacy. We’ve had too many decades of ugly wars; it’s time for some ugly peace.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🛬 McCarthy to the Knesset: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will address the Knesset during his visit to Israel later this month, becoming the second House speaker to do so following Newt Gingrich’s speech in 1998.
🗳️ Gooden for Trump: Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) announced yesterday that he is endorsing Donald Trump for president in the 2024 race — following a meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
☀️ Florida Gamesmanship: Gooden’s endorsement of Trump comes after after two other Florida Republican lawmakers — Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Brian Mast (R-FL) endorsed Trump on Tuesday, while DeSantis got his first congressional endorsement from Florida — his former Florida secretary of state, Rep. Laurel Lee (R-FL).
🤒 Feinstein’s Absence: Democrats are grappling with how to handle the absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as she continues to battle shingles, Politico reports. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked to replace her temporarily on the Judiciary Committee with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) — a move Republicans rejected.
👨 Ellison’s Man: Puck spotlights Oracle founder and top GOP donor Larry Ellison, and his significant support for Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
💔 Dem Divides: The New York Timesreports on divisions within the progressive movement after two recent victories in the Chicago mayor’s race and a Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Those recent successes are “masking deeper internal tensions over the role and influence of progressives in a party President Biden has been remaking in his moderate image,” the paper writes.
💰 Fox Settles: Fox News will pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit filed against it by Dominion Voting Systems, which accused the network of misinformation in its coverage of the 2020 election.
😐 Survey Says: Just over a quarter of Americans have never heard of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and 42% lack confidence in him while 32% have confidence, a new poll from the Pew Research Center found.
🇹🇲 Arriving in Ashgabat: Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will fly from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan tonight, becoming the first Israeli minister to visit the country in nearly three decades, and will inaugurate an Israeli embassy in the capital, Ashgabat — the closest embassy Israel will have to the Iranian border.
🇵🇱 Eighty Years On: Israeli President Isaac Herzog is in Poland today for an official visit during which he will attend the main ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising alongside the presidents of Poland and Germany.
🪧 Protest Plans: Thousands of protesters opposed to the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul proposal are planning to disrupt the upcoming Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Tel Aviv.
🤐 Leaky Business: The U.S. Air Force’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, to which the man charged with leaking classified military intelligence records belonged, has been ordered to halt its intelligence mission while an investigation is underway.
🇸🇾 Another Step Towards Syria: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, in the latest move towards ending Syria’s isolation.
📗 Liz Cheney’s Book: Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, is set to release her book, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning, on Nov. 14.
🎸Celebrity Appearance: Marcus Mumford, lead singer and guitarist of British folk band Mumford & Sons, will participate in the annual joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial event in Tel Aviv next week via a prerecorded video.
🏦 Tainted Funds: Credit Suisse bank held nearly 100 accounts linked to Nazis, the Senate Budget Committee found.
🖼️ Back in Court: The heirs of Jewish art dealers and Holocaust victims seeking restitution appealed to the D.C. Circuit court yesterday, arguing that their case can be heard in U.S. courts because their ancestors were not German nationals at the time of a forced sale to the Nazis, in a case that was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2021.
🤴 Prince in Town: Iran’s exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center, following a trip to the Western Wall and a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel yesterday, as well as a condolence call to the Dee family, three of whose members were killed in a recent terror attack.
👨⚖️ Charlottesville Indictments: A grand jury in Virginia indicted “multiple individuals” who carried tiki torches in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
➡️ Transition: Ilan Goldenberg has taken on the role of special adviser on the Middle East, defense and technology for Vice President Kamala Harris, Politico’s Daniel Lippman reports. Goldenberg was formerly coordinator for the Coalition to Defeat ISIS in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Pic of the Day
Mark Wilf (left), the chairman of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel, attends the March of the Living in Poland on Monday, alongside members of his family.
Comedian, actress and mental health campaigner in the U.K., Ruby Wax turns 70…
U.S. diplomat from 1962 forward, then president of the Council on Foreign Relations, ultimately becoming the under secretary of state for Political Affairs, Peter Tarnoff turns 86… Literary theorist, legal scholar, author and public intellectual, he has taught at Cardozo School of Law, Florida International University and University of Illinois at Chicago, Stanley Fish turns 85… Prominent Israeli criminal defense attorney who also served as the Attorney General of Israel, Yehuda Weinstein turns 79… Rebbi of the Vizhnitz hasidic dynasty based in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Yisroel Hager turns 78… Head of strategic human resources at Elliott Management Corporation and Jewish philanthropist, Terry Kassel… Investor and hedge fund manager, Jacob Ezra Merkin turns 70… VP of GEM Commercial Flooring Company in Kansas, Gloria Elyachar… Angel investment fund manager, he won three Super Bowls during his 12-year NFL career, Harris Barton turns 59… Law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Orde Félix Kittrie turns 59… Historian, author, screenwriter, political commentator and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University, Gadi Taub turns 58… Israeli entrepreneur best known as the founder and former CEO of Better Place, Shai Agassi turns 55… Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel turns 54… French stand-up comedian and actor, during 2019 he starred in “Huge in France” an American comedy series on Netflix, Gad Elmaleh turns 52… Author of five books and a frequent columnist in The New Yorker, Rivka Galchen turns 47… Award-winning film, television and theater actor, his official bar mitzvah was in 2015 at age 37, James Franco turns 45… Toronto-based CEO and co-founder of Klick Health, Leerom Segal turns 44… Actress, author and fashion entrepreneur, she co-founded Fabletics, Kate Hudson turns 44… Managing director of development at NYC’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Brian Tregerman… Rabbi, philosopher, poet, coach and entrepreneur, he writes a weekly Torah commentary on Substack, Zohar Atkins turns 35… MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management, Seffi Kogen… Investment banking analyst and investor, Jake Gerber…