Our J-Meter House Jewish Projection – in which we track races of Jewish candidates for the House of Representatives, and give you an up-to-date assessment of the general picture of Jewish presence in the House and the Senate – will be updated again next week. That is because the outcome of primary votes might have impact on the numbers, and might reduce even more the number of projected Jewish Representatives following the 2012 November election.
Steve Rothman of New Jersey’s 9th district seems to be in a tough situation. Polls show that the Democratic race – to be decided June 6 – is tight. “A new poll commissioned by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell shows the 9th Congressional District primary a virtual dead heat. An outline of the poll, obtained by PolitickerNJ, gives U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman 43.8 percent of the vote to Pascrell’s 43.3 percent. An additional 12.9 percent of those polled are undecided.” Rothman’s rival, Bill Pascrell, was endorsed by former President Clinton (Pascrell was a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2008, Rothman was an Obama supporter). Obama stepped in on Friday to support - but not endorse - Rothman with an invitation to the White House.
If Rothman loses, the district might still have a Jewish Congressman, if Republican Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wins in November. Boteach has a long way to go, but is gaining attention and seems like a viable contender.
Franke Wilmer will also face the voters next week (June 5). In a seven-candidate field she’s one of the two leaders in fund raising. It should be noted, though, that even if Wilmer clinches the nomination, polls give the Republican nominee in Montana the ultimate advantage.
There are also a lot of Jewish contenders in California districts slated for primary vote next week. Berman vs. Sherman is naturally the notable battle, but that’s one of the races in which - no matter who wins - a Jewish candidate will emerge from the race. That is not the case in California’s 47th district, where Alan Lowenthal is trying to win the nomination, or in the state’s 28th district, where Rep. Adam Schiff is vying to keep a seat in the House post-redistricting.
In Illinois’ 10th district, there are signs that the chances of the Jewish contender challenging Rep. Bob Dold are pretty good. Brad Schneider is running neck to neck with Dold in the polls, and the district is listed almost everywhere as one of the districts likely to switch parties.
Our hesitation and then ultimate decision to include Randy Altschuler (NY-01) in our table of House contenders, even though he is not yet on the radar of political experts, hasn’t yet paid off. But it is starting to show some promising signs: Altschuler is now officially the Republican candidate, as his primary rival withdrew from the race. But more importantly, observers of this race believe it will be a very tight one:
Most important could be that Altschuler pulled off the endorsement of the Independence Party, a ballot line that Bishop had in 2010. Bishop received 7,370 votes on that line—way more than he won by. This alone could make Altschuler the favorite this year. But it isn’t the only factor that will affect the outcome. Two years ago, the winner was in doubt until the official recount was over and all the absentee ballots were counted. Surprising to many veteran campaign observers, Bishop actually picked up votes among the absentees. With a large number of wealthy travelers, second-home owners and military ballots, a Republican should always win the absentee voters in this area. Without being privy to either campaign’s playbook, I think the best explanation is that Bishop’s campaign had one bang-up absentee ballot program, or at least a far better one than Altschuler’s campaign. That oversight is not likely to be repeated this year.