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Jewish Journal

Raphael J. Sonenshein

  • Yaroslavsky, a ‘canny change agent’

    November 25, 2014 | 10:00 am

    When we think of Jews involved in Los Angeles politics, we often divide them into two camps: liberal Democrats and Jewish Republicans. Liberal Democrats, as we picture them, are integrated into the broader progressive movements of Los Angeles. They are linked with multiethnic...

  • What kind of Democrat will prevail?

    October 31, 2014 | 4:53 pm

    Much of the political world is transfixed by the national struggle between Democrats and Republicans. But for residents of Los Angeles County and voters in the county’s 3rd District, this year’s elections are not about which party will prevail, but rather about what kind of...

  • What Ferguson can learn from Los Angeles

    September 3, 2014 | 11:34 am

    For students of Los Angeles history, the tragic saga of Ferguson, Mo., rings bells. A brutal police department, accountable to no one and backed by a hostile white mayor and police chief, faces off with a black community that seemingly has little recourse. A largely white City Hall...

  • Jews, teachers unions and education

    July 16, 2014 | 10:07 am

    When the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) came here this week to hold its annual meeting, it was a reminder that Los Angeles is now the center of the American labor movement. The AFL-CIO held its conference in L.A. last September. Decades of local and statewide organizing have...

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  • Top-two system: Early returns

    June 11, 2014 | 10:41 am

    In the 2014 primary, Californians got our first real chance to see the top-two system up close and in full flower. Back in 2012, the statewide offices were not up for grabs. This time they all were.  And the early returns on the new system are mixed.

    Like most election reforms,...

  • Obamacare will be Obama’s second big takeaway

    April 17, 2014 | 2:58 pm

    We tend to use shorthand to talk about our presidents. Lincoln saved the Union and freed the slaves. Kennedy committed us to the moon landing and built the Peace Corps. FDR ended the Depression, created Social Security and won World War II.  

    It’s hard to know in the middle of a...

  • Henry Waxman: The show horse / work horse

    January 30, 2014 | 2:14 pm

    One of the most famous ways political scientists divvy up members of Congress is to call them either “work horses” or “show horses.”  Work horses are the wonks who dig into the details of committee work and legislation, get little public recognition, but get a lot done.  Show...

  • Still a Jewish seat in 3rd District?

    January 22, 2014 | 1:09 pm

    The campaign to succeed long-serving L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in the 3rd District reveals much about how Los Angeles Jewish politics is evolving. The 3rd Supervisorial District, which covers portions of the Westside and the Valley, has had a Jewish incumbent since Ed...

  • Jersey boy ponders his home state’s governor

    November 13, 2013 | 1:29 pm

    I was once a Jersey boy. I grew up in Nutley, N.J., just about 20 minutes from Manhattan. I still wear my T-shirt from Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, N.J. — known to many as the maker of the best hot dog in America.  

    Even when New York City was the central core of Jewish America (before...

  • Opinion still matters more than money

    September 17, 2013 | 3:21 pm

    New York City voters appear to be moving beyond the era of their three-time mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long dominated the city’s politics. With the Sept. 16 concession of William C. Thompson, the winner of New York’s Democratic mayoral primary is the liberal Bill de Blasio,...

  • Lee Baca’s challenge

    August 21, 2013 | 1:09 pm

    Leroy (Lee) Baca, the 71-year-old sheriff of Los Angeles County, is facing a rocky road to re-election in 2014. The Los Angeles Times has called on him to retire, as has L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina. A citizens’ commission on jail violence issued a blistering report on his...

  • Fight bigotry at ballot box

    July 17, 2013 | 11:52 am

    The Trayvon Martin case has once again reminded us that racial divisiveness isn’t going away any time soon in America. The verdict is being debated all over. There are protests in numerous cities. But the Martin verdict and the ensuing protests will nevertheless not have as...

  • The role of L.A.’s Jewish electorate is changing

    June 19, 2013 | 12:06 pm

    What do the recent city elections that saw Jews step into the three top citywide offices — mayor, city attorney and city controller — mean for the role of the Jewish community in Los Angeles?

    The remarkable political success of Jews in Los Angeles since the election in 1953 of...

  • A voter's-eye view of the city election

    May 14, 2013 | 11:48 am

    This year, for the first time, the nonpartisan Pat Brown Institute at CSU Los Angeles went into the polling field.  As poll director, I wanted our poll to illuminate broader trends in the local electorate, and to conduct it we retained Susan Pinkus, who for many years ran the Los...

  • The ultimate school test

    April 18, 2013 | 1:53 pm

    The political struggle over school governance is now the most significant internal conflict in the Democratic Party, at the city, state and national levels. With gun control, gay marriage and immigration now uniting Democrats as never before, education reform remains a main...

  • A gridlock bypass in Congress?

    February 27, 2013 | 3:05 pm

    A remarkable thing happened in Washington, D.C., last week. National leaders of business and labor hammered out an outline on immigration reform. This might not only give a major boost to a new immigration policy; it might also show a path around the gridlock that has driven the...

  • The immigration cliff?

    January 9, 2013 | 1:05 pm

    While Washington obsesses about cliffs, ceilings and other metaphors for budget catastrophe, we should keep an eye on the issue of immigration. On Jan. 2, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced that it would stop requiring some undocumented immigrants to return to...

  • Does the Jewish vote still matter?

    November 14, 2012 | 4:04 pm

    Does the Jewish vote still matter and if so, how? Exit polls indicate that 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama, compared to roughly 39 percent of white voters overall. However, with California and New York, which have large Jewish populations, guaranteed to go Democratic,...

  • The impact of the moderate Republican

    October 17, 2012 | 5:09 pm

    On Oct. 28, 1980, a beleaguered President Jimmy Carter stood on a debate stage with his Republican challenger, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan.  Carter’s one chance to save his presidency depended on his ability to portray Reagan’s views as extreme. The best levers appeared to...

  • Out of Reagan’s shadow

    September 12, 2012 | 2:44 pm

    Even though this is going to be a very close presidential election, maybe closer than in 2008, the Democratic convention of 2012 revealed a party that is stronger today than the dynamic gathering of hope and change that nominated Barack Obama four years ago. For the first time...

  • Tough slog ahead for implementing affordable care

    July 18, 2012 | 5:58 pm

    If Barack Obama is re-elected as president, the overriding purpose of his second term will be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Implementation and the use of executive power have not been Obama’s strengths, but he is going to have to get better very quickly. A powerful...

  • Can California be saved?

    June 14, 2012 | 12:14 pm

    We Californians love to use direct democracy to perform amateur surgery on our state government. As heirs to a century-old tradition of progressive reform, we believe that if we tinker with the rules, we will get much better outcomes. We believe that the people best suited to make...

  • Advice from the Governator

    May 9, 2012 | 12:43 pm

    It has been less than a decade since Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won the special election to recall and replace Gov. Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger finished nearly 1.5 million votes ahead of the second-place gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Cruz Bustamante. Schwarzenegger won...

  • Social issues keep Jews from supporting the GOP

    April 17, 2012 | 2:45 pm

    In the midst of the never-ending debate about whether this will be the election that moves Jews to the right, an intriguing new poll is just out from the Public Religion

    Research Institute. Titled “Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012,” it found that 62 percent of Jews want to...

  • City redistricting plan has potential to affect Asian-Americans

    February 22, 2012 | 3:21 pm

    I was too young to see Hank Greenberg play. That was my father’s generation. But growing up in New Jersey, I well remember the day when Sandy Koufax, playing for the Dodgers, announced his electrifying decision to sit out a 1965 World Series game on Yom Kippur.  Koufax’s action...

  • Opinion: Americans would do well to drop the Euro-snobbery

    January 18, 2012 | 1:31 pm

    Sitting here in Paris, where I am spending a month as a visiting professor at the Université Paris 8, Institut Français de Géopolitique, I’m struck by how, once again, American presidential candidates are denigrating their opponents simply by calling them “French” or...

  • Opinion: Will Iran be the wild card in presidential election?

    November 16, 2011 | 12:45 pm

    As reports circulate about an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iranian progress toward building a nuclear weapon, issues of foreign policy and Israel may find their way back into a presidential election season that has thus far been dominated by the economy. If...

  • Opinion: What redistricting could mean for Jews, Asian-Americans

    October 19, 2011 | 5:16 pm

    The redistricting process going on at the state, county and city levels is a major signpost of changing power for Jews and Asian-Americans in the Southland. While nearly twice as many Asian-Americans as Jews live in the City and County of Los Angeles, Asian-Americans have had a much...

  • Opinion: Obama and Villaraigosa: The not-so-odd couple

    September 12, 2011 | 6:46 pm

    At President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress a week ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sat in an honored seat near first lady Michelle Obama.

    The path that brought Villaraigosa from an outspoken advocate in the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2008 (and,...

  • New coalitions: The politics of redistricting

    August 10, 2011 | 10:51 am

    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who govern the most populous county in America, are entering a critical debate over redistricting that pits Latino empowerment against the stability of district lines. The nature of the board’s majority is also at stake.

    Los Angeles...

  • Beyond raising the debt limit: What a Republican government would be like

    July 19, 2011 | 5:18 pm

    The battle over raising the debt limit has raised a lot of concern about how Republicans act as an opposition party. They have shown that they are willing to risk crashing the economy to get their way with a Democratic president. But they won’t be in opposition forever. We have to...

  • The forgotten people in the 2012 election

    June 15, 2011 | 1:24 pm

    Remember Osama bin Laden? Anyone who thought his death would determine the 2012 elections only had to wait a few weeks for the story to disappear and the bad new job numbers to remind us that the economy is still the main issue in American politics. The 2012 election is certainly...

  • Bin Laden killing gives Obama political edge

    May 10, 2011 | 10:30 am

    As Americans anxiously waited to hear what their young president had to say, the words “national security” hung in the air. Then, when the president spoke on television,he seemed older and more in command than he had seemed the day before. And, as a result, his presidency was...

  • BUDGET: Obama’s way: Maintain support for social programs

    April 15, 2011 | 4:23 pm

    In the midst of the near shutdown of the federal government, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) launched an attack on Democratic-created safety net programs. He proposed an entirely new budget, calling for the privatization of Medicare and the devolution of Medicaid to the states, where...

  • On Wisconsin, Fight, Fight, Fight

    March 15, 2011 | 6:44 pm

    During his 1948 presidential campaign against underdog Democrat Harry S. Truman, Republican Thomas E. Dewey was on the campaign trail. As a crowd surged toward the back of his train, an irritated Dewey told the crowd, “That’s the first lunatic I’ve had for an engineer. He...

  • Harman’s departure: what does it mean for Jews?

    February 16, 2011 | 12:40 pm

    The outcome of the decision by Jane Harman to quit her 36th congressional seat in the South Bay will likely be a signpost of the changing role of Jewish politicians and the Jewish vote in California politics and government. The Jewish presence in Southern California politics remains...

  • Can Gov. Brown Fix California?

    January 11, 2011 | 7:02 pm

    Watching Jerry Brown’s low-key but curiously dramatic press conference on the state budget Jan. 10 reminded me that the central task of Democrats, once they are in power, is to prove that government can work. Without that, all great ideas about equality and justice go nowhere. A...

  • A Democrat’s lament, and a glimmer of hope

    December 7, 2010 | 2:55 pm

    There is a sick feeling of demoralization settling over Democrats, like drizzle on a cloudy day. It’s not because of losses in the midterm elections; it’s the unnerving realization that we are on our own.

    When Barack Obama came to Washington, he promised to change the town. I...

  • California’s big chance on the national stage

    November 10, 2010 | 10:46 am

    Everybody knows by now that California swam against the tide on Election Day, giving Democrats a near sweep of statewide offices. But what’s even more important is what this will mean for national governance over the next two years.

    With control of the House passing to the...

  • The Democrats’ new adversary

    October 13, 2010 | 10:06 am

    An election year that was looking hopeless for Democrats has taken a slight turn for the better. The generic ballot measure has tightened up. Since Labor Day, President Barack Obama has marked off a new, more aggressive political stance that is perking up the ears of demoralized...

  • It’s corporate power vs. government oversight in November election

    September 8, 2010 | 9:53 am

    I was going to write about the Glenn Beck White People’s March on Washington, but then I read Jane Mayer’s path-breaking article in the Aug. 30 New Yorker about the billionaire Koch brothers (David and Charles) and their financial backing of the anti-Obama movement. Why should I...

  • Are Jewish Voters Really Leaning Away From the Left?

    August 10, 2010 | 11:30 pm

    Click here for Steven Windmueller’s response to Raphael J. Sonenshein.

    Few people have a better grasp of the internal dynamics of the Jewish community than Steven Windmueller, so I take seriously his concerns about the angry Jewish voter. Something is clearly happening when the...

  • The New Politics of Immigration

    July 6, 2010 | 7:35 pm

    Few issues in American politics are more contentious than immigration. So, it was noteworthy that last week in a speech at American University in Washington, D.C., President Obama called for a new determination to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

    Things have shifted rather...

  • Jerry Brown’s Uphill Climb

    April 7, 2010 | 12:05 am

    We all know that California is a blue state, with two Democratic senators and a record of favoring the Democratic presidential candidate in every presidential election since 1992.  Barack Obama won California by more than 2 million votes.  But the governorship has tended to be more...

  • The Rahm Emanuel Show

    March 9, 2010 | 3:49 pm

    It was a very strange sight.  There in The Washington Post was an article by reporter Dana Milbank making a case that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s excellent advice has been ignored by a naïve President Barack Obama and that Emanuel is the great unappreciated asset of...

  • Rethinking Obama

    February 12, 2010 | 4:01 pm

    I have been feeling angry and alienated as I watch the Democrats in Washington fritter away their electoral mandate. I’ve been asking why Barack Obama can’t be more like Harry S. Truman. I’ve been watching the party’s fortunes cascade downward toward an electoral catastrophe...

  • Jewish Voters, Obama and Health Care: Trouble Ahead?

    October 6, 2009 | 11:56 pm

    The latest Gallup poll indicates that in September, President Obama’s approval rating held steady at 52 percent. He has dropped from the stratosphere into the rough-and-tumble territory of normal politics. Among Jews, his support level is still a healthy 64 percent. While Jews are...

  • Dems Need Muscle for Health Care Reform

    August 5, 2009 | 10:10 pm

    Over the last 30 years, the great majority of Jewish voters have maintained their support for the Democrats. Jews are integral to the party’s current leadership in Congress and in the White House. And that party now faces its greatest opportunity in a generation to remake health...

  • Jews in Congress Are Making Things Happen

    July 8, 2009 | 6:24 pm

    In 2009, the new U.S. Congress has the largest Jewish representation in its history, with 31 members of the 435 in the House of Representatives and 13 senators of the 100. More than a third of all Jews who have ever served in the U.S. Senate were in office as 2009 began.

    As big as...

  • Q&A with Karen Bass: Life in the Hot Seat

    June 3, 2009 | 5:19 pm

    Political analyst and Jewish Journal columnist Raphael Sonenshein interviewed California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass at the Jewish Journal offices on May 29, 2009, as California faces a dire budget crisis. She talks about her background growing up among Los Angeles’ Jewish...

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