WASHINGTON (Mar. 29)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s stunning victory in the Michigan caucuses is causing increasing concern in the Jewish community, although no one expects him to end up as the Democratic nominee for the presidency.
Jackson won 55 percent of the vote in Michigan Saturday, nearly twice as much as Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who garnered only 28 percent of the vote.
This has led to increased media speculation that Jackson, who now has 598 delegates, only six fewer than Dukakis, could win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in August.
“I don’t think there is any chance of Jackson being on the ticket,” said Morris Amitay, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and a close observer of the political scene.
Mark Siegel, a political consultant and a Jewish liaison in the Carter administration, also agreed that Jackson will not be on the ticket, although he noted that there is a “good deal of concern about the possibility” in the Jewish community.
Neither analyst believes that the concern will result in Jewish Democrats taking part in a “stop Jackson” effort. “No one needs to,” Amitay said, repeating his assertion that Jackson will not be on the Democratic ticket.
The latest turn of events appears to increase the importance of the New York state primary on April 19, where Jews make up nearly 25 percent of the Democratic voters.
Jackson has made a concentrated effort in this campaign to reach out to the Jewish community, where his views on Israel have aroused anxiety.
The candidate has toned down his rhetoric since the 1984 campaign, but Jews are still apprehensive about his candidacy and his potential influence on whoever is selected as the Democratic candidate.
Jackson will get some votes from Jews, but not from “Jews who feel very strongly about Israel,” Siegel said.
No matter what the results are, Jackson will be an important factor in the Democratic race through the convention and beyond. Even if he does not win the largest number of delegates, he will have a large bloc of delegates, which could make him the deciding factor in who are chosen Democratic candidates for president and vice president.