The Jews made it out of Egypt and survived the Six Day war. They can also probably save Pat Toomey’s Senate campaign.
Why? The kosher vote is gravitating towards the Republican Party nationally, despite a history of leaning farther to the left than Karl Marx himself. In the Keystone State, the trend is even more pronounced, providing a ripe opportunity for Republicans to hold the seat even though Toomey has lost his lead in the polls.
“With this cycle, we’ve seen a growth in our membership,” said Scott Feigelstein, the regional director for the Republican Jewish Coalition in Pennsylvania and south New Jersey. “It’s a fiercely contested race, and we believe in informing the electorate on Sestak’s record on Israel.”
The national RJC has dropped a cool $1 million dollars in the Pennsylvania Senate race, criticizing Democrat Joe Sestak for supporting the civilian – rather than military – trial of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. RJC has also hammered Sestak for his involvement in CAIR, which the FBI considers a Hamas front group. CAIR recently earned headlines for criticizing NPR “Talk of the Nation” host Juan Williams, which led to Williams’ dismissal.
In response to RJC’s ad buy on the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed issue, there has been a much smaller $18,000 buy from Human Rights First in support of Sestak’s stance on Israel. There are rumors of a much larger advertising buy from J Street, the liberal Jewish group, which would provide a stark counterweight to RJC’s activities, though J Street denied that any advertising campaign had already been purchased.
Sestak has been courting Jews on his own, however, by visiting innumerable synagogues across the state throughout the course of his campaign. The very Jewwy capitol city of Philadelphia birthed Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter – who happens to be a Jew – has probably given Sestak a boost. At the very least, confusion surrounding Specter and his party switch is something of a microcosm for the larger stereotype of Jews having more conflicting opinions per capita than any other religion.
“In Pennsylvania, we have a new administration coming in,” said Hank Butler, chair of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, referring to the state elections. He called Jewish voter enthusiasm at equal levels with enthusiasm of 2008, when a star-studded Presidential election dominated the cycle. The activity is as much as it could be “without a president at the top of the ticket.”
Feigelstein said that Jewish-centered issues were taking a close second to the economy in terms of what’s important to Pennsylvania voters.
“Clearly the highlight of the campaign is the economy and jobs, and spending and the size and scope of the national debt,” he said. “But the U.S.-Israel relationship is clearly an issue in the front of their minds.”
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