Boca Raton, Fla. — Adam Hasner has a novel recipe for Republican electoral success: mixing a conservative Tea Party platform with mainstream Jewish financial support.
The U.S. Senate hopeful from Florida is riding a fast-growing wave of Jewish influence in the Republican Party, which hopes to dramatically expand its electoral support among Jews nationwide, particularly in Florida.
On a national level, there is only one Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives and none in the Senate. Hasner, 42, a former majority leader of the Florida House of Representatives, hopes to change that.
“I represent an emerging group of leaders within the Jewish community who are conservatives, not just fiscal conservatives but social conservatives as well,” Hasner said, sitting outside a Panera Bread restaurant in a shopping center near his campaign headquarters in Boca Raton.
Read Josh Nathan-Kazis’s report on the state of the Jewish vote in Florida’s Republican primary, and why Democrats care, too.
Hasner’s campaign for the Republican nomination to face off with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson matches an appeal to a conservative GOP base with deep ties to Jewish Republican donors around the country.
Hasner argues that there is a growing ideological overlap between the conservative Republican base and Jewish voters, particularly on foreign policy. Though some Tea Party-affiliated Republicans have called for less federal spending on foreign aid, Hasner said most back a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
“There is a strong sentiment within the Tea Party that favors a stronger America on the global stage, and with that comes a strong alliance with the State of Israel,” Hasner said.
A self-described lifelong Republican, Hasner was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He attends a Chabad synagogue.
Hasner opposes abortion and gay marriage, and he has positioned himself to the right of the Republican opponents he will face in an August 14 primary.
But though he speaks at Tea Party events, he also maintains close ties with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a mainstream national organization. His wife, Jillian, a political consultant, is a former executive director of the organization’s Florida branch. And Hasner was Florida chairman for Jewish outreach for both the 2004 Bush campaign and the 2008 McCain campaign.
Hasner has portrayed himself as an opponent of what he calls the threat posed by Islamic law, an issue popular with some right-wing Jews and conservative Republicans. “My concern is both as a Jew and as an American who believes in the foundational Judeo-Christian values, that we need to fight for the survival of Western civilization, and Sharia is not compatible with Western civilization,” Hasner told the Forward.
Hasner’s conservative Republican support and his Jewish support have each bolstered his campaign in different ways. His RJC ties have taken him on fundraising trips to Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota and California. Meanwhile, his support from the conservative base helped him win a straw poll at a CPAC Florida convention in September, a local gathering of conservatives, that was a high point of his campaign so far.