WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (JTA) –The Jewish presence in Congress will increase slightly, as a result of this week’s elections, despite the loss of at least one Senate seat and the upset defeat of a longtime Jewish representative, Democrat Sam Gejdensen of Connecticut.
Jews will hold at least nine seats in the new Senate –and a 10th if either Lieberman winds up retaining his Connecticut seat or the state’s governor appoints a Jew to replace him, in the event that he becomes the first-ever Jewish vice president. Either way, this represents a decrease from the current 11, with the retirement of Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) after 18 years.
In addition to Lieberman, the two other Jewish senators up for re- election – Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) – both won.
In the House of Representatives, the number of Jews serving will increase, from 23 to at least 27 –and possibly as many as 29. Two races where Jewish challengers threaten incumbents were still too close to call as of Wednesday morning. In New Jersey, Jewish Republican Dick Zimmer was battling Democrat Rush Holt to regain the seat Zimmer once held. And in Florida, Democratic Jewish challenger Elaine Bloom was struggling to unseat Republican incumbent E. Clay Shaw.
Aside from these races, there are four new Jewish members of the House: Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). And Jane Harman (D-Calif.) returns to the seat she once held, after defeating Republican incumbent Steven Kuykendall.