Midterm Elections | Runoff Election in Georgia May Decide Fate of U.S. Senate, Again

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Reverend Raphael Warnock, Democratic Senator from Georgia, arrives to speak to supporters at a U.S. midterm election night party in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 9, 2022.
Reverend Raphael Warnock, Democratic Senator from Georgia, arrives to speak to supporters at a U.S. midterm election night party in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 9, 2022.Credit: Bob Strong / REUTERS
Updates
Reuters

Democrats' risky midterm strategy to elevate election deniers appears to pay off

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano listens as his wife Rebecca Mastriano says a prayer during an election night campaign event in Camp Hill, Pa., Tuesday.Credit: Carolyn Kaster /AP

Democrats spent millions elevating far-right Republican candidates over more moderate ones in hopes of making make their opponents easier to beat on Election Day. As results come in, the strategy appeared to have paid off, but critics say it may prove to be destructive.

Read the full article here.

Ben Samuels

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson defeats Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin Senate race

WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is projected to defeat progressive Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in their hotly contested Wisconsin Senate race, according to NBC News.

No other competitive Senate race better encapsulated each party’s trending directions concerning Israel. Johnson had won the support of both AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Coalition, despite him blocking the confirmation of the U.S. antisemitism envoy, Deborah Lipstadt, for nearly a year.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson thanks his supporters before leaving the venue of his election night party, while still awaiting results for U.S. midterm elections in Neenah, Wisconsin, yesterday.Credit: DANIEL STEINLE/ REUTERS

Johnson, who has vocally lent support to pro-Israel efforts in Congress, defended participants in the Capitol insurrection as people who “loved their country” unlike Black Lives Matter protesters. Lipstadt called his positions “white supremacy,” earning the ire of Johnson.

Barnes, meanwhile, was perhaps the most notable progressive Senate candidate running this cycle. During the 2021 Gaza war, the lieutenant governor and former interfaith community organizer tweeted “normalize saying Free Palestine.” The J Street-backed candidate added that “we cannot be more comfortable with chaos and the deaths of innocent children than we are with those two words. Our collective future deserves an end to the conflict. Lasting peace is well overdue. The longer this drags on, the more difficult a two-state solution becomes.”

Ben Samuels

Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney concedes in New York shocker

WASHINGTON - Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceded his race to Republican challenger Mike Lawler in perhaps the biggest Republican upset this election.

Maloney, a favorite of the pro-Israel establishment, had won his competitive Democratic primary against progressive candidate Alessandra Biaggi, in large part due to support from the ultra-Orthodox community.

He has accused Lawler of being behind a 2019 Republican ad charging a local Orthodox legislator and his “bloc” of plotting a “takeover” by redrawing voting districts. The ad ominously warned that the plan would threaten “our homes, our families, our schools, our communities, our water, our way of life.” It was soon removed following widespread bipartisan condemnation, including from the Republican Jewish Coalition. Lawler rejected the accusations as a “ridiculous, personal attack” while charging Maloney with “promulgating a lie.”

Mike Lawler, Republican representative for New York's 17th Congressional District, greets supporters during an election night party, yesterday.Credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez /AP

Outside Republican groups, including ones aligned with House Republican leaders, spent over $7 million on attack ads against Maloney, motivating U.S. President Joe Biden to reach out directly to prominent local rabbis to shore up support for Maloney. Hasidic media reported that Biden called the Skverer and Vizhniter Rebbes of New Square and Kaser, promising “an open door to my administration” in return for their backing.

Reuters

Runoff election in Georgia may decide fate of U.S. Senate, again

Control of the U.S. Senate may once again be decided in Georgia, weeks after Election Day as a tight race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker could be headed to a Dec. 6 runoff.

With more than 99% of the vote counted, Warnock is narrowly leading against Walker, a former football star endorsed by President Donald Trump. But Warnock has not yet reached the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, according to data from Edison Research.

A third candidate, libertarian Chase Oliver, siphoned off 2% of the vote.

Raphael Warnock, Democratic Senator from Georgia, speaks to supporters at a U.S. midterm election night party in Atlanta, Georgia, today.Credit: BOB STRONG / REUTERS

Warnock, a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Atlanta church civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr led, won his seat in a runoff in 2021.

It was one of two Senate seats up for grabs in the formerly reliably Republican state. In a political upset, both Democrats won their races, handing their party the barest of majorities in the chamber.

Those races were the most expensive congressional elections to date at that time, with the special election between Warnock and his Republican opponent, businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, drawing nearly $363 million, according to Open Secrets.

So far, Warnock's campaign has spent $135.8 million, while Walker's campaign has spent $32.4 million, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. Millions in outside spending are also expected to flood the state.

Reuters

Democrats limit election losses to Republicans in U.S. Congress, but GOP still favored to win House

Control of Congress was up for grabs early on Wednesday after the U.S. midterm elections, with many of the most competitive races uncalled, leaving it unclear whether Republicans would crack Democrats' tenuous hold on power.

The mood at the White House improved as the night wore on, with once-nervous aides allowing smiles to creep onto their faces and saying early signs for Democrats were better than expected. On Twitter, Biden posted a photo of himself happily congratulating some of the Democratic winners by phone.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans remained favored to win a majority that would allow them to block Biden's priorities while launching politically damaging investigations into his administration and family.

By early Wednesday, Republicans had flipped six Democratic House seats, Edison Research projected, one more than the minimum they need to take over the chamber.

Republicans will have the power to block aid to Ukraine if they win back control of Congress, but analysts say they are more likely to slow or pare back the flow of defense and economic assistance.

Read more of this article here.

The Associated Press

Democrat Ned Lamont wins second term as Connecticut governor

Democrat Ned Lamont has won reelection as Connecticut governor, defeating Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski for the second time in four years following a campaign battle that focused on abortion access, crime and the cost of living.

The first-term governor weathered Stefanowski’s accusations that he’s oblivious to the financial toll that inflation and taxes have taken on everyday residents. Lamont instead painted for voters a rosy picture of a state that has successfully emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced taxes, paid down pension debt and now has a robust savings account.

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks during a gubernatorial debate with Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski ahead of Tuesday's election.Credit: Anthony Quinn /AP

“Connecticut gets it right. We had a good election, a fair election. Now we all come together, we work together as one. Because that’s what Connecticut always does,” Lamont told supporters in a victory speech in Hartford.

Stefanowski conceded the race shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, releasing a statement that acknowledged “the results of this election are not what we had hoped for.” He urged Lamont to support people who voted for him as well as those who didn't.

“Politics has become too divisive and the great people of Connecticut deserve better,” he said in the statement.
The two rivals presented starkly different views of public safety in Connecticut. Stefanowski called crime in Connecticut “out of control,” echoing a message from Republicans across the country, and proposed overhauling parts of the 2020 police accountability law which he said is to blame for challenges recruiting more police officers. Lamont has countered with statistics that show a 3% reduction in overall crime between 2020 and 2021, saying it’s a positive trend despite political “fearmongering.”

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Four races will decide the fate of the U.S. Senate

In the lead up to Tuesday's midterm election, it looked increasingly clear that the Senate races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin would come down to the wire. The prediction became true as polls closed on Tuesday evening.

As of 5:45 A.M. (EST) on Wednesday, five senate races have yet to be called by major networks: the aforementioned four and Alaska.

Alaska will remain in Republican control since the two leading candidates, Kelly Tshibaka and Lisa Murkowski, are both members of the GOP. With Alaska expected to remain red, there would be a 48-48 tie in the Senate.

The GOP will need to pick up three of the remaining four seats to control the Senate, while Democrats could retain control with two of the remaining four. Here are the latest updates on the four key states, as of Wednesday morning:

Arizona

Incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly has a comfortable lead over Blake Masters, 52.1-45.8 percent, with 67 percent of votes in. The state's largest county, Democratic stronghold Maricopa, has reported just over 68 percent of votes cast, according to estimates.

Georgia
Democratic Incumbent Raphael Warnock has a very small lead over his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker. With 96 percent of votes counted, Warnock leads 49.2-48.7 percent over the former football player. If neither candidate crosses the 50 percent mark, there will be a run-off election in early December.

Nevada

Republican challenger Adam Laxalt is leading incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto 49.9-47.2 percent, with some 80 percent of votes counted. The state's largest county, Clark, has counted close to 85 percent of the vote.

Wisconsin

Republican incumbent Ron Johnson currently holds a 50.5-49.3 percent lead over his Democratic challenger, Mandela Barnes, with 94 percent of votes counted.

Ben Samuels

From Josh Shapiro's victory to AIPAC's key races, five top Jewish midterms headlines

WASHINGTON – While the results of the U.S. midterm elections are still being counted, there is no doubt that Tuesday was a shocking disappointment for the Republican Party. An all-but-assumed red wave never manifested, while extremist GOP candidates embroiled in controversies touching upon antisemitism were soundly defeated.

Here are five key highlights from Election Night, from AIPAC's top Democrat's loss in Virginia to Dem. Fetterman defeat of Dr. Oz in their key Senate race.

Read the full article here.

The Associated Press

Dems win Michigan Congressional seat long-held by Republicans

Democrat Hillary Scholten on Tuesday won a congressional seat being vacated by a Michigan Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

Scholten defeated John Gibbs, who ousted first-term Rep. Peter Meijer in the August GOP primary. Gibbs had criticized Meijer for being one of 10 House Republicans to support impeachment of the former president after last year’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Scholten is an immigration attorney whose prospects improved after an independent panel redrew Michigan’s House district map following the 2020 census.

Her district is anchored by Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, which hasn’t had a Democratic representative since the mid-1970s. Among new additions are Democratic-leaning Muskegon.

Gibbs, who held several positions in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Trump and won his endorsement, described himself as staunchly conservative, opposing abortion rights and favoring a border wall.
He questioned the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's 2020 victory, posted conspiracy theories on social media and drew criticism for hosting a website as a college student that contended women shouldn't vote or work outside the home. He recently described the site as an “over-the-top” effort to provoke liberals.

Scholten, who worked in the Department of Justice during the Obama administration and for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, emphasized preserving abortion rights and reducing health care costs.

Meanwhile, Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin narrowly won a third term in the 7th District, which includes Lansing, the state capital. She defeated Republican Tom Barrett, a state senator and Army veteran.

Ben Samuels

As Fetterman flips Senate seat, read his exclusive interview with Haaretz on GOP antisemitism and what being 'pro-Israel' really means

No midterm election campaign has captured national attention more than the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz.

Hours before Oz was slated to rally alongside former President Donald Trump and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano – both of whom have recently and controversially used their support for Israel as a pushback against antisemitism allegations – Fetterman told Haaretz that Republicans cannot and should not be using support for Israel as a shield against charge of anti-Jewish sentiments.

“It’s a joke, but there’s nothing funny about it. There is NO excuse for literally giving campaign money to white supremacist social media websites or spreading hate speech in any context,” Fetterman said in an interview conducted over email. “You don’t get a free pass on hate speech just because you say nice things about Israel.”

Read the full interview here.

Ben Samuels

Democrat Susan Wild declares victory in race highlighted by Republican Jews

Democrat Rep. Susan Wild declared victory in her Pennsylvania House race against Republican challenger Lisa Scheller, in a race that leading Republican Jews highlighted as a key opportunity to flip a seat.

Pundits and observers consistently identified this as one of the key races in the midterms, with some even calling it the bellwether of how the House will lean after the midterms. The race carried particular interest given that both Wild and Scheller are Jewish and actively engaged with the local community. Wild converted to Judaism in 2006 and entered office in 2018, while Scheller speaks fluent Hebrew and mulled making aliyah and enlisting in the Israeli army when she was younger.

Wild’s campaign attempted to highlight her representing a community with a record of being “moderate and bipartisan,” warning that Scheller would pave the way for a total abortion ban with no exceptions in Pennsylvania. Republicans, meanwhile, are striving to tie Wild to inflation under the Biden administration’s watch, painting her as elitist and out of touch. The two ran a close race in 2020, where Wild won 51.9 percent of the vote, 3.8 percentage points ahead of Scheller, though subsequent redistricting was believed to have swayed the district in the Republican’s favor.

Ben Samuels

AIPAC's key Republican Don Bacon narrowly defeats J Street-backed Democrat

Republican Rep. Don Bacon is projected to narrowly defeat Democratic challenger Tony Vargas in a Nebraska House race that underscored the political tightrope AIPAC has crafted for itself with its political endorsements in competitive races.

AIPAC has flagged defending the embattled Republican incumbent as a key priority. Bacon is among the most ardent vocal supporters of Israel in Congress, though his seat has been identified as a key potential Democratic flip since he was first elected and has only grown more vulnerable since alienating Trump.

Bacon, who is not Jewish, provoked widespread opposition from the American-Jewish establishment after co-founding the congressional “Torah Values” caucus, which was criticized as a misguided effort in the fight against antisemitism. His district voted for Biden in 2020, and his seat became more vulnerable in recent months thanks to his support for a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions. J Street, meanwhile, flagged electing Vargas as a key priority in its own right.

The Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Evers wins Wisconsin race, Republican candidate concedes

Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels has conceded to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the battleground state. Michels conceded early Wednesday morning with more than 90% of the expected vote counted. Evers held a 3-point lead. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

Michels is a construction company co-owner who was backed by former President Donald Trump. He campaigned as a political outsider and wanted to do away with the state’s bipartisan elections commission. The race was the most expensive in state history and a key one for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Evers serves as a block on the Republican-controlled Legislature, vetoing more than 120 bills including measures to make it more difficult to vote absentee. Republicans were trying to gain a supermajority in the Legislature so they could override Evers’ vetoes.

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CNN: Pelosi reelected to Congress with large majority in California

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco in November.Credit: Jeff Chiu /AP

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was reelected by a large majority in the race for Congress in California's 11th district, according to a CNN forecast, defeating Republican opponent John Dennis.

In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Democratic sources spoke about the party wanting to pressure the 82-year-old Pelosi to resign from her position in the event of a loss in the House of Representatives. CNN's report was based on conversations with around twenty Democratic members of Congress.

Ben Samuels

John Fetterman projected to defeat Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate John Fetterman reacts to applause from supporters during a joint rally with Democratic candidate for Governor Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at Norris Park on October 15, 2022 in Pennsylvania.Credit: Mark Makela - AFP

Democrat John Fetterman is projected to defeat Republican Mehmet Oz in perhaps the most significant national victory for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to projections by NBC News and Fox News.

Fetterman and a variety of U.S. Jewish organizations had sharply condemned Oz for standing by GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, despite the antisemitism that has been an ever-present factor in the latter’s campaign.

Jewish groups on both sides of the aisle had spent unprecedented amounts to help their respective candidates emerge victorious, which only increased amid growing attention on Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke that left him with an auditory processing disorder.

While this has not impacted his cognitive abilities and his doctor has stated that he has no work restrictions, Oz’s campaign has turned Fetterman’s health into a campaign issue. Disability advocates and medical experts have decried the attacks, but polls had recently narrowed to the point where the race was within the margin of error.

Fetterman told Haaretz that extreme leaders like Mastriano and spineless ones like Dr. Oz fan flames of antisemitism, and that Republicans cannot and should not be using support for Israel as a shield against charges of anti-Jewish sentiments.

The Associated Press

Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp once again defeats black social activist Stacey Abrams

Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp was elected to a third term after defeating Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams according to a CNN forecast. This is the second time that the black social activist lost to Kemp in the election for the position of governor.

The 48-year-old Abrams' campaign headquarters said she called the Republican governor and admitted her loss. Shortly after, she took the stage and congratulated Kemp on his victory. She later officially conceded to Kemp.

“I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to make sure the people of Georgia have a voice,” she said.

Kemp, 59, was an entrepreneur before entering politics. He served as a senator in the Georgia legislature and later as secretary of state. He was elected tonight for another term despite the attacks he received from former President Donald Trump.

Abrams, a lawyer whose close loss to Kemp in the 2018 election catapulted her to superstar status in the Democratic Party, had hoped to become the first black woman elected to the post of US governor.

Ben Samuels

Two of three embattled pro-Israel Democrats in New Jersey emerge victorious

Two of the three New Jersey Democrats running in hotly contested New Jersey elections defeated their Republican challengers.

Rep. Tom Malinowski, vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and considered one of the most important foreign policy voices in the House, lost to Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. despite being among the favorites of the U.S. Jewish establishment. In a speech, Malinowski described the race as "too close to call," though his tone and body language were noticeably defeated.

Kean, who comes from New Jersey political royalty, has attempted to toe the line between mainstream conservatism and the GOP’s MAGA wing, came within 5,000 votes of unseating Malinowski in 2020, and has only been bolstered after redistricting pushed the swing district further red.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer has become the epitome of a pro-Israel Democrat during his time representing the 5th Congressional District in the northernmost part of the state, with perhaps no other member of Congress being so closely associated with AIPAC. He successfully defeated repeat challenger and Trump endorsee Frank Pallotta.

Rep. Andy Kim, a favorite of J Street and a rising star in the Democratic Party, defeated Republican challenger Bob Healey, who was buoyed by a super PAC largely bankrolled by $3 million in donations from his mother.

Ben Samuels

Ohio has new Jewish members of Congress from both sides of the aisle

WASHINGTON - Republican Max Miller is projected to win his House race, making him the second Jewish House Republican. Jewish Democrat Greg Landsman, meanwhile, is projected to upset AIPAC-endorsed Republican Rep. Steve Chabot.

Miller, a former Donald Trump aide who earned the latter’s enthusiastic endorsement, is set to win his Cleveland-area race to succeed Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who leaves Congress after becoming persona non grata after voting for Trump’s impeachment over the January 6 Capitol insurrection despite his controversial record, including a record of assault.

U.S. Republican congressional candidate Max Miller attending a rally by former U.S. president Donald Trump in Youngstown, Ohio, last month.Credit: GAELEN MORSE/REUTERS

Landsman – a Jewish Cincinnati city councilman – has long been a supporter of Israeli civil society organizations that support marginalized youth. The Democratic Majority for Israel and Jewish Democratic Council of America-endorsed Landsman has focused his campaign on education access based on his career as a nonprofit leader and public educator.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who has served Ohio’s 9th Congressional District for nearly 40 years where she has been among the leading Democrats promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is projected to defeat Republican challenger JR Majewski.

An ardent supporter of QAnon and a participant in the events of January 6, he has said he believed in “everything that’s been put out by Q,” posting relevant hashtags on Instagram and wearing a QAnon shirt while on Fox News. Majewski has also described himself a “superfan” of Gab, the social media platform that is regarded as a haven for white supremacists, and has described its founder, Andrew Torba, as one of “America’s greatest patriots.”

Democrat Emilia Sykes is also projected to defeat Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who implicitly accusing Soros of funding protests that erupted following George Floyd’s murder in May 2020. She also previously supported Trump for saying “both sides” were at fault for the violence at the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally and backed demonstrators at the January 6 rally.

The Associated Press

In Maryland, Moore elected as state’s first Black governor

Democratic candidate Wes Moore was elected to serve as governor of the state of Maryland. In doing so, he became the state's first black governor, replacing Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Moore defeated Republican candidate Dan Cox. He is the third black governor ever elected to office in the US: Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia in 1989, and Deval Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006.

Moore, a combat veteran, worked as an investment banker, ran one of the largest anti-poverty organizations in the country (Robin Hood Foundation) and wrote five books. His election slogan was "leave no one behind".

“When I was an Army captain and led soldiers into combat in Afghanistan, we lived by a simple principle: Leave no one behind," he said in his victory speech. "Real patriotism means bringing people together.”

Reuters

Trump-endorsed J.D. Vance wins Ohio's U.S. Senate seat

Republican J.D. Vance, author of the hardscrabble memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," has won Ohio's open Senate seat, defeating Democratic U.S. House Representative Tim Ryan in a state that has trended Republican over the past decade.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Vance, and tech billionaire Peter Thiel was a major donor to his campaign.

Vance's more controversial opinions - that he did not care what happened in Ukraine and claiming the Biden administration was purposely flooding the Midwest with fentanyl - and Trump's comment at a campaign rally that Vance "is kissing my ass" made the race more competitive than expected. National Republican groups spent heavily to shore up his prospects.

Ryan emphasized his blue-collar background, supporting domestic jobs and a $15 minimum wage as his key policy planks, and distanced himself from party's liberal wing.

Ben Samuels

Lee Zeldin fails in bid to become New York's first Jewish GOP governor

WASHINGTON – New York's Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul is projected to defeat Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who failed in his bid to become New York's first Jewish Republican governor.

Zeldin, one of two Jewish Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, was seeking to represent a state with the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. He surged in the polls just ahead of the election, after aggressively attacking Hochul (who assumed power after Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace last year) over rising antisemitism.

Stickers and jewelry of an attendee are seen at the 2022 U.S. midterm election night party for New York congressman and Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. on November 8, 2022.Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

One of Trump’s most vocal supporters, and perhaps his most notable Jewish political supporter, Zeldin is seen as the face of the GOP’s unqualified support for Israel. Jewish megadonor Ronald Lauder and his affiliated super PACs have since invested millions in Zeldin’s favor, though state officials are investigating whether Zeldin coordinated with the super PACs in violation of state law.

Zeldin had aimed to establish alliances with Orthodox Jewish community leaders hoping to poach blocs of votes from the incumbent. The dual financial and growing grassroots support has helped transform what was once considered a formality into one of the country’s most competitive and closely watched gubernatorial races, though Hochul is set to win decisively.

Ben Samuels

Far-right Republican Senate candidate loses in New Hampshire

WASHINGTON - Sen. Maggie Hassan is projected to defeat her far-right Republican challenger Don Bolduc in their New Hampshire race that many anticipated would be a bellwether for a potential red wave.

Bolduc came under fire for accepting an endorsement from a local Republican who shared an antisemitic cartoon concerning 2020 election conspiracy theories.

He has called the state's Republican governor a "Chinese Communist sympathizer," had advocated for repealing the 17th amendment which allows for direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote, called to abolish the FBI and called for deploying U.S. forces into Ukraine.

Beyond this, he has described COVID-19 vaccines as Bill Gates implanting microchips inside people and spread rumors about children being told they can identify as cats and use litter boxes in schools.

Ben Samuels

Summer Lee wins Pennsylvania race despite AIPAC's $1m efforts

WASHINGTON - Democrat Summer Lee is projected to defeat Republican Michael Doyle in their Pennsylvania House battle, despite AIPAC spending over $1 million in recent days to defeat her.

AIPAC involved itself after the race proved closer than anticipated, seeing a second chance to defeat her after failing to do so in the primary.

The House Democratic campaign arm rallied behind Lee and national Republicans, in turn, not only targeted Lee but attempting to connect her with neighboring Pennsylvania Democrats running competitive House races of their own.

None of its ads, however, mention Israel, raising questions regarding AIPAC’s political experiment, which were assumed to have gone momentarily dormant during the general election campaign.

Democratic House candidate Summer Lee in Pittsburgh last May.Credit: Rebecca Droke/AP

Ben Samuels

Josh Shapiro defeats Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON - Democrat Josh Shapiro is projected to defeat Republican Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race that captured the attention of American Jews over antisemitism's central role in the campaign.

Shapiro, a Jew and the state’s attorney general, has highlighted his faith as central to his views on governing, and has vowed to protect reproductive rights and election integrity. Mastriano, meanwhile, has accused Shapiro of being out of touch with ordinary people, implicitly citing as evidence his active participation in the Jewish community and the fact that his children go to a private Jewish day school.

Mastriano has been repeatedly criticized for his associations with the far-right platform Gab and its CEO Andrew Torba, after paying the platform a $5,000 consulting fee this year and defending Torba’s $500 campaign donation.

Republican gubernatorial candidate and conspiracy theory fan Doug Mastriano in front of an image of former President Donald TrumpCredit: AP

Mastriano was at the Capitol during or shortly before the invasion January 6, has compared gun control to 1930s Nazi policy and shared an image saying legal abortion was worse than the Holocaust. Many Jewish Republicans said they wouldn't vote for Mastriano, but for Shapiro and Republican candidate Mehmet Oz for the U.S. Senate.

Ben Samuels

AIPAC's top Democrat loses in Virginia, but other key pro-Israel Dem ekes out win

WASHINGTON - Rep. Elaine Luria, the pro-Israel Democrat running in what AIPAC identified as one of its most important races, is projected to lose to Republican challenger Jennifer Kiggans, according to CNN. The loss is a significant blow to the pro-Israel, national security oriented wing of the Democratic Party.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, meanwhile, eked out a narrow victory over Republican challenger Yesli Vega. A former federal law enforcement officer, Spanberger was among the most vocal Democratic critics of progressive talking points following the 2020 election, namely defunding the police.

Rep. Elaine Luria speaks at an event on Oct. 30, 2022 in Suffolk.Credit: Mike Caudill /AP

Unlike Luria, Spanberger supported the 2015 Iran nuclear deal though has expressed reservations about the Biden administration's diplomatic efforts over the past year.

Republicans had identified Luria and Spanberger, as key vulnerable incumbents to target in the GOP’s efforts to wrest control of the House. The hotly contested races, meanwhile, had the Democratic establishment concerned about a potential brain drain on the party’s more traditional wing since two of Congress’ most national security-minded members may be out of office come Wednesday.

Ben Samuels

Colorado's Jewish governor, senator win re-election

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is projected to defeat Republican challenger Joe O'Dea in their surprisingly competitive Colorado Senate race. O'Dea rose to prominence after running against national trends and highlighting his differences with Donald Trump.

Bennet, who was first elected in 2008, is the son of a Holocaust survivor and has not shied away from discussing its influence on his life, though it is unclear if he presently identifies as Jewish.

Gov. Jared Polis, the state's first Jewish governor and the first-ever gay governor, is projected to defeat Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl. Polis has been compared to Nazis by Republicans critical of his stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has emotionally rejected as an offensive comparison, citing his own family lost in the Holocaust.

Ben Samuels

Rhode Island Jewish Democrat defeats upstart Republican critical of Trump

Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner is projected to defeat Republican challenger Allan Fung to represent Rhode Island's second district in the House, according to local media.

The race, which has been a safe Democratic seat for years under Rep. Jim Langevin, became significantly more competitive than anticipated after Fung ran as a moderate Republican on his way to leading Magaziner in polls throughout the campaign.

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, a Democratic from Rhode Island, won his race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.Credit: Reuters

Democrats would invest time and resources into shoring up support for Magaziner (who identifies as ethnically Jewish but not religiously, and has a Catholic Mother). He joins fellow Jewish Democrat Rep. David Cicilline as the state's two Congressional representatives.

Ben Samuels

Sarah Huckabee Sanders wins Arkansas governor's race

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump's former press secretary, will win election for Arkansas governor. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, is widely viewed as among the Trump administration officials most closely aligned to the former president, who strongly endorsed her in her gubernatorial run.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question from the media during the daily briefing, June 14, 2018.Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

During her tenure, she used a video produced by Infowars — the far-right media outlet run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — to justify revoking a reporter's press pass. She also refused to comment on Trump's comments that "Democrats hate Jews," instead criticizing Democrats for passing a resolution condemning antisemitism instead of condemning Democrats critical of Israel.

Sanders also came under fire for describing a senior administration official as a "liberal, aggressive, foulmouthed Jew from New York City" in her memoir published in 2020. The official, Josh Raffel, defended her, citing their friendship.

Florida: DeSantis reelected, Frost to become first Gen-Z in Congress

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won a second term, defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former congressman. The victory continues DeSantis’ rise as a national Republican star as he eyes a possible 2024 White House run that could leave him well positioned to be a GOP primary alternative to Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Maxwell Frost will win his Florida House race, according to the AP, officially setting him up to be the first Gen-Z member of Congress. Frost is a favorite of leading national progressives, though has gained attention for his evolving stance on Israel-Palestine.

While he used to be an outspoken critic of Israel's actions toward the Palestinians, his positions evolved over the course of his primary after consulting with pro-Israel organizations, denouncing BDS and opposing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel.

Three aspiring Jewish Democrats, meanwhile, are projected to lose their respective House races. Eric Lynn, a former Pentagon official who played a key role in pushing through funding for the Iron Dome in the Obama administration, lost his bid to represent his Tampa-area community to Republican Anna Paulina Luna.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene leaving her office on Capitol Hill in February.Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM - AFP

Luna is a strong advocate for Donald Trump and holds extreme positions on abortion access. She has also campaigned alongside Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and defended her against allegations of antisemitism by noting that she was raised as a Messianic Jew and is a "small fraction Ashkenazi."

Alan Cohn, meanwhile, is projected to lose in his second Congressional bid in two years to former Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee.

Democrat Annette Tadeo, too, will lose her bid to become the first Hispanic Jew elected to Congress after being defeated by Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar.

Ben Samuels

Rand Paul wins reelection in Kentucky Senate race

Sen. Rand Paul will win re-election to the Senate from Kentucky after defeating Democratic challenger Charles Booker. Paul was the lone senator from either party preventing $1 billion in emergency funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system from being fast-tracked through the Senate via unanimous consent.

Paul's move, motivated by what he deemed to be reckless spending, provoked the outrage of the pro-Israel and U.S. Jewish establishment. His move, however, did not elicit nearly as much fury from more staunchly pro-Israel groups compared to the progressive Democrats who voiced their own concerns about the funding.

Ben Samuels

Welch projected to win Vermont Senate race

Rep. Peter Welch is projected to win his Vermont Senate race to replace outgoing Sen. Patrick Leahy, according to the Associated Press.

Welch, who has served in the House since 2007, is closely aligned with J Street on matters concerning Israel-Palestine. He was an original co-sponsor of Rep. Andy Levin's Two-State Solution Act, and further co-sponsored legislation concerning transparency on U.S. military aid to Israel.

He has been vocally critical of Prime Minister-in-waiting Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeting "no single individual has done more to harm the vitally important U.S.-Israeli relationship than Netanyahu" during his 2015 campaign against the Iran nuclear deal.

Ben Samuels

These pro-Israel Democrats in New Jersey are a bellwether for this midterm election

WASHINGTON – Three New Jersey Democrats, each embodying a different aspect of pro-Israel support within the party, are running in hotly contested battles against Republican challengers this midterm election.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer has become the epitome of a pro-Israel Democrat during his time representing the 5th Congressional District in the northernmost part of the state, with perhaps no other member of Congress being so closely associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

He has attacked party orthodoxy, co-founding the Problem Solvers caucus aimed at promoting bipartisanship, while not withholding criticism of party leadership and the Biden administration – drawing ire and praise from the party’s progressive flank and center-right, respectively.

Read the full article here.

Halie Soifer

Antisemitism is now a key part of the Republican agenda for America | Opinion

Toward the end of any election cycle, both parties brace themselves for an “October surprise” – a consequential development that may change the trajectory of key races across the country. For American Jews, this year’s October surprise is the startling normalization of antisemitism.

Hate speech targeting Jews – which has featured prominently in headlines for about four weeks – now feels ubiquitous. It includes antisemitic comments and conspiracy theories espoused by the artist formerly known as Kanye, basketball player Kyrie Irving, former President Donald Trump, and numerous candidates running for office, all on the Republican side.

Unfortunately, the hate doesn’t end there. It also includes a prolific surge in anti-Jewish rhetoric on Twitter, which is incredibly dangerous giving the anonymity of the Internet. It’s what a senior FBI official warned about in 2020, when testifying before Congress about the rise of antisemitism: “The greatest threat we face in the homeland today is that posed by lone actors radicalized online…”

Read the full op-ed here.

The Associated Press

Midterm vote largely undeterred despite minor hiccups in New Jersey, Arizona, and Pennsylvania

Final voting began without major hitches Tuesday in midterm elections under intense scrutiny after two years of false claims and conspiracy theories about how ballots are cast and counted.

With polls open across most of the country, no big problems were reported early in the day, though there were hiccups in some places, which is typical on any Election Day. For example, vote tabulators were not working in a county in New Jersey and one in Arizona – potentially requiring hand-counting instead – and some voting sites in Pennsylvania were delayed in opening because workers showed up late.

“These are things we see in every election cycle,” said Susannah Goodman, director of election security at Common Cause, a group that advocates for voting access. “There’s nothing majorly concerning this morning.”

Since the last nationwide election in 2020, former President Donald Trump and his allies have succeeded in sowing wide distrust about voting by promoting false claims of extensive fraud. The effort has eroded public confidence in elections and democracy, led to restrictions on mail voting and new ID requirements in some GOP-led states and prompted death threats against election officials.

Election Day this year is marked by concerns about further harassment and the potential for disruptions at polling places and at election offices where ballots will be tallied. Election officials say they are prepared to handle any issues that arise, urging voters not to be deterred.

Reuters

U.S. sees 'no specific or credible threat' to disrupt midterm elections voting, official says

American officials are not seeing any credible threats aimed at the country's voting machines or poll books during the U.S. midterm elections, a senior federal cybersecurity official told reporters on Tuesday.

"We see no specific or credible threat to disrupt election infrastructure," the official told reporters during a scheduled briefing just as Election Day was beginning.

The official, who briefed journalists on condition of anonymity, said that did not mean there would be no hiccups. U.S. officials in New Jersey's Mercer County, for example, have said on the county's Facebook page that there were "issues with voting machines" there and that poll workers were on hand to help voters.

"We see issues every Election Day," the U.S. official said, speaking generally. "Such incidents would not affect a person's ability to cast a ballot or know that their ballot was counted accurately."

Election security has emerged as a key issue in the United States after officials found Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda intended to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of winning against Donald Trump.

Ben Samuels

From antisemitism to Israel, what this midterm election means for U.S. Jews

WASHINGTON – After months of unprecedented campaign spending, the U.S. midterm elections are finally here.

Antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories have become a through line in ways previously unimaginable in several key races that will determine whether Republicans wrest control of Congress from the Democrats.

These elections will determine President Joe Biden’s leeway to pursue his domestic policy agenda, which Jewish voters greatly care about, and his Israel policy – about which many Jewish voters care less.

Also at stake is the future of American democracy: Many Republican candidates in key races have denied Biden’s 2020 election victory and have suggested they will use their electoral power to influence future election results.

Read the full article here.

haaretz-weekly-new

From Bibi to the midterms, a dramatic election season for U.S.-Israel ties

With the most religious and right-wing Israeli government in history about to be formed following last week’s dramatic elections, what’s ahead for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and especially for Israel’s ties with American Jews?

On Haaretz Weekly, host Amir Tibon and Haaretz journalists Allison Kaplan Sommer and Ben Samuels analyze the fallout from the Israeli election and the implications of the expected outcome of the U.S. midterms, where the Republican Party is strongly favored to regain control of Congress. This follows a pitched campaign in which antisemitism and extremism played a major role.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Ben Samuels

Pennsylvania Senate race in spotlight this midterm election

WASHINGTON – No midterm election campaign has captured national attention more than the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz.

Hours before Oz was slated to rally alongside former President Donald Trump and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano – both of whom have recently and controversially used their support for Israel as a pushback against antisemitism allegations – Fetterman told Haaretz that Republicans cannot and should not be using support for Israel as a shield against charge of anti-Jewish sentiments.

Read the full article here.

Ben Samuels

U.S. midterms: Meet 10 of the most extreme Republicans running for Congress

WASHINGTON – As President Joe Biden and others in his party warn that democracy is under threat in midterm elections, Republican voters look set to elect some of the most extreme lawmakers in U.S. history.

No fewer than 15 Republican candidates have publicly defended the QAnon conspiracy theory, with several attending the January 6 rally that preceded the Capitol insurrection. Their rise to prominence is seen as a sign of how the Republican Party is now in thrall to the most radical elements of its party.

The following list features 10 – there could have been more – of the most extreme candidates. Many of them have trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy theories related to Jewish billionaire George Soros or invoked Nazi imagery to criticize policies such as abortion rights and COVID-19 health safety measures.

Read the full article here.

Ben Samuels

Fetterman tells Haaretz: Supporting Israel is not a free pass for supporting hate

WASHINGTON – No midterm election campaign has captured national attention more than the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz.

Hours before Oz was slated to rally alongside former President Donald Trump and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano – both of whom have recently and controversially used their support for Israel as a pushback against antisemitism allegations – Fetterman told Haaretz that Republicans cannot and should not be using support for Israel as a shield against charge of anti-Jewish sentiments.

Read the full article.

David Schraub

How the antisemitic GOP went full Jeremy Corbyn | Opinion

For the past few years, many American Jews have quietly worried about “Corbynification”— that is, a particular brand of toxic antisemitism and conspiratorial extremism, of the type espoused and normalized by former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which would find its way into U.S. politics. Recent developments have shown that this fear is not unfounded.

Indeed, a U.S. party has now turned into a near-perfect counterpart to all the worst elements of Corbyn’s Labour – but this time, it’s not coming from the socialist left.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious that the Republican Party would be the one to Corbynify first. A cult of personality around a Dear Leader who is perpetually victimized by the biased media and whose rise to power was supercharged by an online contingent of hyper-vicious trolls targeting, among others, Jews? That rings a bell.

Read the full article here.

Shane Burley

For the midterms, the GOP is reviving its most infamous antisemitic conspiracy theory

When a confederation of far-right activists, militia members, and Q-Anon adherents stormed the Capitol on January 6th, most of the American public acknowledged that the politics of resentment and toxic conspiracy theories caused the violence.

But conservatives had a different answer for who broke into the halls of Congress: Antifa. Rather than taking responsibility for the behavior of this corner of the GOP’s base, Republican leaders like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) pushed the theory that it was actually costumed antifa members who went berserk on Capitol Hill in an attempt to slander honest patriots and bring down the ire of the “deep state.”

As USA Today chronicled, the theory that antifa was responsible started on far-right backchannels like 4Chan, moving onto bigger conservative mouthpieces (like actor Kevin Sorbo) and, within just a few hours becoming one of the most repeated MAGA talking points, and a key defense against charges of sedition.

Read the full op-ed here.

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