Snapshot of Key Races for Congress

While most eyes are on the presidential race this year, Jewish political activists are monitoring some key congressional races.

Senate: Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) vs. former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) — Many in Alaska are upset that Murkowski’s father appointed her to the job two years ago, but she has had a good record on Israel, supporters say.

Colorado: Pete Coors (R), business executive, vs. state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) — Coors’ conservative viewpoints on social issues have rallied Jewish Democrats toward Salazar.

Florida: Betty Castor (D), former state commissioner of education, vs. Mel Martinez (R), former secretary of housing and urban development. A primary opponent accused Castor of being soft on terrorists at a university she once helmed, but many Jewish Democrats still are backing her.

North Carolina: Rep. Richard Burr (R) vs. Erskine Bowles (D), former White House chief of staff — Burr is seen as a good chance for a Republican pick-up, and Jewish Republicans are backing his effort. Burr says Bowles was weak on terrorists when he was in the Clinton administration.

Oklahoma: Former Rep. Tom Coburn (R) vs. Rep. Brad Carson (D) — Coburn’s conservative views on abortion have gotten attention, and galvanized Jewish Democrats.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Arlen Specter (R) vs. Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) — Specter is a well-respected member of the state’s Jewish community, and is expected to easily defeat the congressman.

South Carolina: Rep. Jim DeMint (R) vs. Inez Tenenbaum (D), state superintendent of education — Tenenbaum’s husband is a pro-Israel activist on the board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But she has stressed in her campaign advertisements that her parents were church elders.

South Dakota: Sen. Tom Daschle (D) vs. former Rep. John Thune (R) — Republicans are looking to knock off Daschle, the Senate minority leader, and are hoping Thune, who barely lost to Sen. Tim Johnson (R-S.D.) two years ago, is their ticket.

Wisconsin: Sen. Russell Feingold (D) vs. Tim Michels, businessman and veteran — Feingold, who is Jewish, is considered likely to win, but his liberal views are not a perfect fit for a state now leaning Republican.

House:

Florida, 13th district: Rep. Katherine Harris (R) vs. attorney Jan Schneider (D) — The two squared off in 2002, and Schneider is hoping for a different result this time.

New Hampshire 2nd district: Rep. Charles Bass (R) vs. businessman Paul Hodes (D) — Democrats hope Hodes can squeak out a win in this district with an independent streak.

Pennsylvania 13th district: State Sen. Allyson Schwartz (D) vs. Melissa Brown (R) — In a tight race to replace Hoeffel, Schwartz has long-standing ties to the area’s Jewish community.

Texas 32nd district: Rep. Martin Frost (D) vs. Rep. Pete Sessions (R): Redistricting forced Frost into a Republican district and placed him against an incumbent. Despite strong support from Jews across the country, the second-longest serving Jew in the House may be ousted.

Virginia 2nd district: David Ashe (D), an Iraq war veteran, vs. Delegate Thelma Drake (R) — The race has gotten tighter since Rep. Ed Schrock (R) backed out, and the seat is considered a possible House pick-up for the Democrats.

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