Political end-notes


Gut Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom, have an easy weekend. Just want to clean up some elections stuff:

–In listing successful Jewish candidates in statewide races, I noted GOP attorney general first time wins in Georgia and Arizona (Sam Olens and Tom Horne, respectively.) I should also have noted Douglas Gansler (D) in Maryland, who was re-elected without opposition.

–As long as we’re tracking statewide Jewish wins JTA should have noted in previous elections, let’s mention Jack Markell, the Democratic governor of Delaware, elected in 2008.

–I noted the pivot by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) the other day: During his visit to the Middle East, he warned Iran it had more incentive than ever to play ball on nuclear transparency, now that the Republicans run the U.S. House of Representatives. The Financial Times story noted the likely ascension of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), an Iran hawk, to the chairwomanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

If Kerry was inviting Ros-Lehtinen to play bad cop, she seems more than happy to, according to this Reuters story:

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who as senior Republican on the committee is poised to take over its leadership, told Reuters she believed the House body would have an "important voice" in foreign policy, without wanting to over-inflate its role or influence.

"I think that the majority of our committee, that has yet to be named … will be able to help the president be tougher with countries," Ros-Lehtinen said in an interview.

"I think it strengthens the president’s hand," added the Florida representative, who is a fierce critic of countries like Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela that she terms "rogue regimes." She spoke while Obama was on a tour of Asia, attending a G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea.

Ros-Lehtinen said Obama could even use a "tough Congress" to "play good cop, bad cop" with anti-U.S. states like Iran, which Washington and other world powers are pressuring over its nuclear program.

It’s interesting, I think, that the first sign of bipartisan foreign policy comity, in the sour post election atmosphere, comes from Kerry and Ros-Lehtinen. Both have a reputation of reaching across the aisle — Ros-Lehtinen particularly has always been gracious to her opposite Democratic member (Gary Ackerman, Tom Lantos, Howard Berman) over the years.

They will each head the foreign relations committee in their respective chambers for the next two years. Maybe it’s a sign that the tone will not be as acrimonious as it looked just a week ago.

–J Street lost its sole Republican endorsee, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) just before the election, as Allison Hoffman at Tablet noted. Boustany was the only Republican to survive Michael Goldfarb‘s ideological bootcheck of Republicans and conservative Dems who dared lend their name to J Street’s inaugural conference over a year ago.

The timing of his distancing from the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group might explain why he  left: He resigned in the wake of revelations that J Street had misled about its association with right wing bogeyman, George Soros. Until then, I think, the fact that Boustany was a proud Arab American allowed him to keep even Goldfarb on hold.

Final irony: Justin Elliott at Salon does yeoman’s work and discovers that Soros pays Goldfarb’s group, Orion strategies, to lobby on Burma issues. What’s good for the Goldfarb is not so good for the GOP.

–I’ve noted that Randy Altschuler, the Jewish Republican seeking to unseat Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) from his eastern Long Island area district, is leading by about 400 votes in the the pre-absentee ballot count . Altschuler is confident enough of a win that he’s in DC next week to attend GOP freshman orientation.

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