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5 Jewish Candidates Are Campaigning for the U.S. Senate

October 19, 1976
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Five Jewish candidates, one of them with a chance to be the only woman Senator in the new Congress convening in January, are campaigning for U.S. Senate seats in as many states, a canvass by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency shows.

The Senatorial candidates are Edward Zarensky, the mayor of Omaha, who is campaigning in Nebraska to take the place of retiring veteran Republican Senator Roman Hruska; Gloria Schaffer, who is seeking to unseat Republican Senator Lowell Weicker in Connecticut where she has held elective office for 18 years; former Senator Howard Metzenbaum in Ohio; Richard P. Lorber, a political newcomer in Rhode Island, and Congressman Sam Steiger in Arizona. Steiger is a Republican; the four others are Democrats.

The terms of the three incumbent Jewish Senators–Jacob K. Javits (R.NY), Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.) and Richard Stone (D.Fla.) are not at stake in the election Nov. 2. Approximately a third of the Senate’s 100 members are elected every two years.


A canvass by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency indicates that Zarensky is alone among the five candidates reported definitely ahead in public opinion polls or in the estimation of political prognosticators. Steiger, Metzenbaum and Lorber are seen locked in close races while Schaffer is trailing Weicker.

Zarensky, according to the Omaha World Herald of Oct. 10, is pulling ahead of Congressman John Y. McCollister, his Republican rival. Zarensky himself was a Republican until last spring. He refused to oppose McCollister for the Republican nomination and instead entered the Democratic primary in which he defeated two opponents. Zarensky, 47, is a native of Omaha and a graduate of the University of Nebraska.

While in business with his father, Zarensky ran in 1968, as a Republican, for a place on Omaha’s public power board. He held that post until 1973 when he was elected mayor. His term expires in a year.

With Congresswomen Bella Abzug and Patsy Mink having lost in the Democratic primaries for the Senate in New York and Hawaii, respectively, Mrs. Schaffer is the last of the women candidates this year for a Senate seat and she is reported losing, too. Senator Weicker a moderate Republican, enhanced his standing with many Connecticut voters by taking an early anti-Nixon stand in the Watergate scandals. Mrs. Schaffer was a State Senator for six terms over 12 years before she became Secretary of State in 1970. She was re-elected to that post four years later.

Metzenbaum, a Cleveland businessman, was described in a “horse race” with incumbent Republican Senator Robert Taft Jr. of Cincinnati. Metzenbaum served in the Senate for one year after he was appointed to fill the vacancy caused when William E. Saxbe, now Ambassador to India, was chosen to be U.S. Attorney General.

In the Democratic Senatorial primary in 1974. Metzenbaum lost to astronaut John Glenn who continued to victory in the general election. According to a survey by the Columbus Despatch, whose findings are said to be remarkably accurate, Taft and Metzenbaum are running neck-in-neck in southern and central Ohio.


A tight and increasingly bitter race is reported taking place in Arizona. Steiger, a 10-year veteran Congressman, has just emerged from gruelling Republican primary marked by anti-Semitic overtones with Rep. John B. Conlan and the wounds have not healed. Conlan’s campaign manager has endorsed Steiger’s opponent, Democrat Dennis DeConcini, who is prosecutor in Pima County (Tucson).

Conlan himself has refrained from endorsing Steiger. According to a report published here DeConcini told the League of Women Voters that Steiger voted in the House against appropriations and resolutions supporting Israel. Steiger who is a B’nai B’rith member, said later he could act recall the votes and added: “I may be a fiscal fascist but I refuse to bear the label of anti-Israel.”

In the year’s tightest Senatorial primary Lorber defeated Rhode Island Governor Philip Noel for the Democratic nomination by only 100 votes out of 155,000 cast. As in Arizona; the primary wounds have not healed and he faces formidable opposition in Republican candidate John H. Chafee, a former governor and Secretary of the Navy. Lorber never ran for office before this year. He considers himself a Jeffersonian Democrat. (Tomorrow: Candidates for the House)

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