There are 27 members of the House of representatives and 9 Senators who are Jewish – 36 out of 535 voting Lawmakers (there are 3 non-voting reps from Washington, DC) in the 116th Congress. They are Democrats, Republicans and one Independent, and represent many different political agendas – and they far outweigh the proportion of US Jews compared in the general population (about 2%).
The 115th Congress only featured 23 Jewish House members and 9 Senators, compared to the 113th Congress (2013 – 2015) which had 22 House members but 12 Senators.
But this unusual concentration of political power in the hands of Jewish lawmakers—who probably couldn’t agree on much, especially about US policy towards Israel—is on a decline. As the NY Post put it on Saturday: “Jewish lawmakers face exodus from House of Representatives.”
US Representative from New York Nita Lowey, a Democrat who is 83, has announced her retirement last October. Her 17th district includes New York City’s inner northern suburbs: White Plains, Purchase, Tarrytown, Mount Kisco, and Armonk. Two Jewish politicians, Adam Schleifer and David Buchwald, are running for her seat, which means her district would still be represented by a Jewish politician, but without Lowey’s years of seniority.
Susan Davis, the Jewish representative from California’s 53rd district, announced last September that she’s not seeking reelection. Her district is in San Diego county and includes eastern portions of Chula Vista, western portions of El Cajon, central and eastern portions of the city of San Diego, as well as the eastern suburbs of Bonita, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley. Two Democrats, Sara Jacobs and Georgette Gómez, will be on the ballot in November, so far, Jacobs appears to have the lead.
A younger Jewish lawmaker, Josh Gottheimer, 45, representing New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, is facing a challenge from leftist Indian American Arati Kreibich, who receives the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Gottheimer has been voting with the Republicans in the House on some issues, and is viewed as an ally of the police, even though he supported the Congressional Black Caucus’s measures to enhance police accountability, eliminate discriminatory policing practices, and improve transparency and data collection. His opponent, Kreibich, has attended Black Lives Matter rallies and promotes a radical approach, defund the police, making a clear distinction between herself and the incumbent. The NJ primaries are on July 7, and Gottheimer, although ahead in fundraising, appears to be fighting for his political life.
As the June 23 primary in New York is approaching, Democrat, Eliot Engel, 73, probably Israel’s best friend in the House, is facing a serious threat from a progressive challenger, Jamaal Bowman, who has the support of the extremists on the democratic left (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for a district next door), as well as Sen. Sanders. The campaign for the 16th congressional district, which contains parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, has become a kind of proxy war between the radical and moderate wings of the party. Hillary Clinton announced her support for Engel, and so, aday later, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts endorsed Bowman. Should Engel fail in the June 23 primary (this Tuesday), NY State would lose his House Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, and, of course, another Jewish lawmaker.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, also 73, from New York’s 10th congressional district (lower Manhattan), is being challenged in the June 23 primaries by Lindsey Boylan and Jonathan Herzog, both from the left wing of the Democratic party. Normally, Nadler, in office since 1992, could be counted on to finish ahead of his opponents, by the city and his district have been ravaged by the coronavirus and the race riots, and faces an alarming rate of unemployment, which means the voters would prefer any new face to the incumbent.
Max Rose, a Jewish Democrat representing New York’s 11th congressional district, which includes all of Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, is facing a tough challenge from Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, the lone Republican state legislator from New York City. Malliotakis spent a three-day visit to Israel and is endorsed by The Jewish Press.
Finally, Elaine Luria, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district, will face the winner in a three-way Republican primary for her district, this Tuesday, June 23. Luria is on the record as calling for President Trump’s impeachment, which could play against her in November. In 2018, Luria defeated Republican Scott Taylor, but Virginia’s 2nd is considered one of the state’s most competitive congressional districts.