Jewish Winners in National Election: 3 in the Senate, 21 in the House
Menu JTA Search

Jewish Winners in National Election: 3 in the Senate, 21 in the House

Download PDF for this date

Voters in yesterday’s national election chose three Jewish Senators, two Governors and at least 21 Congressmen. 10 more than the 12 in the present House of Representatives. The Jewish contingent coming from states in the east, south, midwest and California is believed to be a record.

Nineteen, including three women, are Democrats and three are Republicans. This compares to the 10 Democrats and two Republicans in the present Congress. Eleven of the incumbents all except one. Bertram Podell, New York Democrat, were returned to office. Podell withdrew from the race after involvement in criminal proceedings.

The 11 incumbents returned to the House are Republican Benjamin Gilman and Democrats Bella Abzug. Elizabeth Holtzman, Edward I. Koch, Benjamin S. Rosenthal and Lester Wolff, all of New York; Democrats Joshua Eilberg, Pennsylvania; Edward Mezvinsky, Iowa; Sidney Yates; Illinois, and William Lehman, Florida, and Republican Sam Steiger, Arizona.

In New York, Democrats James Scheuer and Richard L. Ottinger were elected to House seats they had previously held, and in addition. Democrats Stephen J. Solarz and Frederick Richmond were elected to the Congress for the first time. Solarz gained the seat vacated by Podell, also a Democrat and the only incumbent not returned:


In a major comeback effort for a House seat that attracted national attention, Abner Mikvah. liberal Jewish Democrat in Illinois, reversed the tables to win for Congress after having lost to the Republican incumbent two years ago. This race was considered the most expensive Congressional contest in the country with the two candidates in the Chicago suburban district raising campaign funds of about a quarter of a million dollars each.

For the first time, too, Georgia elected a Jewish Congressman with Democrat Elliott Levitas defeating his Republican incumbent in Atlanta’s suburbs. Ohio also elected a Jewish Republican, Willis D. Gradison defeating the Democratic incumbent Thomas Luken by a narrow margin in Cincinnati. This district is considered safely Republican with Democrats having elected Congressmen only three times in a century. In a special election last March, however, Gradison was nosed out by Luken.

In Maryland, Mrs. Gladys Noon Spellman, of suburban Laurel, became the third Jewish woman to be elected to the new Congress. The other two are Miss Holtzman and Mrs. Abzug. All three are Democrats. Mrs. Spellman is a Council member in Prince George’s County that borders on Washington. California elected Democrats John R. Krebs and Henry A. Waxman to their first terms in Congress. Both Jewish candidates had been favored. A half dozen other Jewish candidates had been in the field for the House of Representatives in various parts of the country but reports here indicated that they had not been elected.


In Senate races. New York Republican Jacob K. Javits, running for his fourth six-year term, had to overcome a Democratic tide nationally and hardy opponents to his political left and right, to retain his seat–one of two held by Jewish Senators in the present Senate. Javits received less than half the New York State vote but won handily over Democrat Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General in the Johnson Administration, and Mrs. Barbara Keating, the Conservative Party candidate. In Connecticut, former Governor Abraham Ribicoff easily won re-election to his third Senate term, defeating Republican James H. Brannen III. a freshman member of the State Assembly.

Florida for the first time elected a Jewish Senator. Richard B. Stone, a Democrat, winning a tight race. Stone, like Javits, had to overcome two opponents, both of whom, however, were to his political right. They were Republican Jack Eckard, a drugstore chain owner, and Dr. Dan Grady of the American Party who like Mrs. Keating in New York, drew about 15 percent of the total vote.

Stone, 46, a lawyer who lived in Miami and now makes his home in Tallahassee, served four years in the State Senate and is a former Secretary of State for Florida. Stone promised to take his office door to the Senate as a symbol of “open” government.

A fourth Jewish Senatorial candidate, editor and publisher Jonathan Marshall of the Scottsdale “Daily Progress,” lost in Arizona to Republican Barry Goldwater who was re-elected as expected but in a much closer contest than had been forecast. Astronaut John Glenn, who defeated Howard O. Metzenbaum in the Democratic Party for Senator in Ohio last spring, went on to triumph yesterday. Metzenbaum was appointed to the Senate, filling the vacancy caused when former President Nixon named William B. Saxbe to be U.S. Attorney General.


In Gubernatorial races, Democratic Governor Milton Shapp in Pennsylvania and Marvin Mandell in Maryland both were re-elected to second terms, but in Michigan the Jewish candidate on the Democratic ticket, State Senator Sander Levin, narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Governor William G. Milliken who was helped by on-the-scene campaigning by President Ford. Levin conceded defeat this morning with Milliken ahead by only 22,600 votes. Shapp, the first Pennsylvania Governor in 99 years to succeed himself, received 55 percent of the vote. Mandell won with about 60 percent of the ballots.

The Democratic landslide, occasioned by the nation’s economy, a high rate of joblessness, the prospect of higher taxes and the Watergate scandals, will give the Democratic control of the Senate by 63 to 37 and the House by 290 to 145. The Democrats gained five Senate seats and about 40 House seats. Although the Democratic Party is traditionally the more liberal of the two major parties and generally supportive of foreign aid, there was considerable speculation that the new Congress may act differently in view of the commitments by many of the candidates to help America regain its economic strength. That might mean curtailment of the foreign assistance programs. including aid to Israel

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund