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Big names out, but other Jewish possibilities in Florida for 2010

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The two most prominent Jewish politicians in the state don’t appear to be interested, but there are a couple other Jewish Democrats — and one Jewish Republican — who are being talked about as possible candidates for the Florida U.S. Senate seat that will be open in the 2010 election after Republican Mel Martinez announced Tuesday he won’t seek a second term.

Just elected to his seventh term. Rep. Robert Wexler, especially after his prominent role as a surrogate in the Barack Obama campaign, would seem like a possible contender. But his chief of staff told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "He’s not running for Senate."

Soon to be three-term Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz also doesn’t look like a candidate. "It is unlikely that she would seek the seat, given that she is very happy working for the people of South Florida in the House of Representatives," Jonathan Beeton, communications director for Wasserman Schultz, told the Washington Post.

One Jewish congressional Democrat that has been named in the Florida media as a possible candidate is Rep. Ron Klein, who just won his second term in the U.S. House after fourteen years in the Florida legislature. Representing a district on the Palm Beach and Broward county coasts, Klein is seen as a top fundraiser but would have to increase his statewide profile. In an interview with JTA in October he noted that people in his congressional district were still getting to know him.

“In large urban areas, it’s very difficult to penetrate” the minds of voters, he said. “We still have a third of the voters who don’t know who I am.”

Also reportedly in the mix is Florida state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach. A former Democratic chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations,he has spent eight years in the Florida legislature..

On the Republican side, the name of Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner was floated yesterday by the Sun-Sentinel. The paper noted that he’s a proven fundraiser — collecting one million dollars in his Palm Beach-Broward county district — and received 60 percent of the vote in an area that Barack Obama carried.

Hasner was co-chair of the Florida Jewish steering committee for John McCain’s presidential campaign, but has been critical of Republican Jewish outreach to Jews in the 2008 election. He told JTA last week, "The lesson to be learned is we have to communicate with Jewish voters” about other things besides “who’s more pro-Israel. … We did a poor job talking about anything other than Israel.”

Hanser didn’t rule out a run when the Sun-Sentinel spoke to him Tuesday afternoon. "I’ll tell you this, for the last half an hour, my phone’s been ringing off the hook," he said. "Right now, I’m considering all my options. Obviously the first person I talked to was my wife. We have to sit back and follow this very closely over the next couple of days."

Of course, if former Florida Gov.

Jeb Bush

decides to run, it’s unlikely Hasner–or any other Republican–would get in the race.

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