Ex-Bush Administration Official Vies With Ohio’s Jewish Lieut. Governor for Senate

Rob Portman (R) and Lee Fisher (D)
Rob Portman (R) and Lee Fisher (D)

Published September 14, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Polls

Republican Portman led Fisher by 50% to 37% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll of 600 registered voters, including 440 who said they were likely to vote, released September 28. The poll had a 4% margin of error.

A September 14 CNN/Time Poll of likely voters gave Republican Rob Portman 52% of the vote, leading Democrat Lee Fisher’s 41% by 11 percentage points. There was a 3 percentage-point margin of error. A poll from September 6 conducted by the Columbus Dispatch gave Portman 50% over Fisher’s 37%, with a 2.2 percentage-point margin of error. The winner will succeed Republican Sen. George Voinovich, who is retiring.


Biographies

Lee Fisher
Party: Democrat
Age: 59
Religion: Jewish

Shortly after graduating from Case Western Reserve University law school, Fisher began campaigning for a seat in Ohio’s state legislature. Ten years later, in 1990, he was elected state attorney general. After that, he ran a human services organization, before he was tapped to run for Ohio’s lieutenant governor on Ted Strickland’s winning ticket.

Rob Portman
Party: Republican
Age: 54
Religion: Methodist

In 1989, this Michigan Law School graduate served on George H.W. Bush’s Associate White House Counsel before directing the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. After a two-year stint as partner in GH&R, a Cincinnati law firm, he was elected to the House, where he served until George W. Bush appointed him as U.S. Trade Representative. In 2006, Bush appointed him to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. He resigned in 2007, saying he wanted more time with his family.


Issues

Israel

Portman says the U.S. should defer to Israel on “whether, when, how, where or under what circumstances a Palestinian state or homeland should be established.” He supports Israel’s right to self-defense in areas including the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. AIPAC, the pro-Israel Washington lobby, lauded Portman for his work as U.S. Trade Representative, specifically for pushing against the Arab League’s Israel boycott.

Fisher “back[s] the Obama Administration efforts to strongly support the security of Israel,” according to his campaign site. He told a Jewish group there can be no “moral equivalency” between terrorists who target civilians and use them as human shields and “the legitimate military defensive action that Israel seeks to end these attacks.” Fisher has close ties with pro-Israel groups, having received $104,850 from the pro-Israel political action committees.

Iran

Portman says he supports the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and would push it through the Senate if elected. He would also support divestment legislation and further economic sanctions. He has called for strengthening sanctions against Iran and mentioned the need to “keep the military option on the table.”

Fisher has said it is a priority to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that a military strike of Iran by the U.S. or Israel is an option but “a last resort.”

Iraq/Afghanistan

Portman voted to reauthorize the Iraq war in 2002, and now says he stands by that vote. He has criticized the Obama administration for alienating Afghan President Hamid Karzai and criticized Obama’s withdrawal timetable in Afghanistan, since it lays out a timeline for enemies.

Fisher says he supports Obama’s plan to “responsibly end the war in Iraq and defeat al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks around the world,” according to his campaign site, though he says the U.S. should have never invaded Iraq—and that military energy should focus on training new Afghan forces. He disagreed with the latest troop surge in Afghanistan, since he thought it wasn’t worth the risk.

Health Care and Social Security

Portman did not vote for the health care bill, and wants it repealed. He favors malpractice reform and interstate health insurance. Portman voted to raise 401(k) limits and reduce Social Security tax payments and earnings.

Fisher supports the public option and maintains the bill did not go far enough. He opposes Medicare-based pay to medical professionals. Both Portman and Fisher say they want to strengthen Social Security (though Fisher says his opponent would endanger it).

Abortion

Portman is against the practice of abortion, but not absolutely: he makes exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother’s life. He voted yes on a partial-birth abortion ban with the exception of saving a mother’s life.

Fisher is pro-abortion rights and says he is committed to upholding Roe v. Wade. In the Ohio legislature, Fisher sponsored a resolution “deploring acts of violence against reproductive health care facilities,” and later disparaged the health care bill’s Stupak amendment, deeming it “discriminatory language far beyond existing law.”

Gay Marriage

On a survey, Portman wrote that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Portman voted to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Fisher, who previously said he had “questions” about gay marriage, says he now supports it. According to a campaign statement, “The government should be focused on creating jobs, lowering health care costs and moving us to alternative energy, instead of trying to stop individuals who want to be in a committed relationship and take responsibility for each other.”

Islamic Center

Portman opposes the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero, and voiced support for New York State Governor David Paterson’s offer to find an alternative site for it. He maintains that it’s not a question of right, rather one of respect.

Fisher has taken the Obama line: touting religious freedom while withholding his explicit endorsement of the plan.


The Campaign

Lee Irwin Fisher (D)

Last Report: June 30, 2010

Rob Portman (R)

Last Report: June 30, 2010

Source: OpenSecrets.org


Demographics

About 149,000 Jews live in Ohio, constituting 1.30% of the population. But Cleveland democratic consultant Gerald Austin told the Cleveland Jewish news that he doesn’t see Fisher’s Judaism helping his candidacy, since most Jews already share his liberal views.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.