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Jewish coalition changes name, forms PAC to support Republicans

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WASHINGTON, May 9 (JTA) — Jewish Republicans know that in politics, money often speaks louder than words. That’s why the National Jewish Coalition announced last week a restructuring that includes the establishment of a political action committee to funnel political contributions directly to Republican congressional and presidential candidates. As part of the reorganization, the pro-Republican group changed its name to the Republican Jewish Coalition and plans to provide volunteers to work for Republican candidates. The changes provide an “opportunity for the Jewish community to speak to candidates on a political and financial level,” said Matt Brooks, the coalition’s executive director. Brooks will also head the PAC, which hopes to donate more than $100,000 in the 2000 elections. The Republicans freely admit that they took a page out of the Jewish Democrats’ playbook. “There’s no pride of authorship here,” Brooks said. “There’s an imbalance we wanted to set straight to compete on a much more level playing field.” In 1995, the National Jewish Democratic Council created its own political action committee, which gave away more than $1 million to Democratic candidates in the 1998 election cycle, according to Stephen Silberfarb, NJDC deputy executive director. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Silberfarb said. “We’ll fight them in the field.” The Republicans will operate as a traditional PAC, with a $5,000 limit to a candidate in a general election. The Democratic PAC bundles individual checks together and gives them to candidates in blocks. Even though individuals have a lower $1,000 maximum, the bundling results in a higher total dollar figure. Like NJDC, the Republicans plan on waiting until after primary election contests to give money. Brooks knows that the group has its work cut out for it when it comes to winning over Jewish voters who traditionally give more than 70 percent support to Democratic candidates. The groups plans to run a series of ads on The New York Times’ op-ed page beginning next week and has lined up all the Republican presidential contenders to speak to a conference in December. But primarily because of the Democratic successes at the polls, Jewish Republicans are motivated, he said. “The last years — out of the White House, in the wilderness — have been devastating,” Brooks said.

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