Mr. Grayson Salsas Back to Washington

Jewish Lawmaker Rides Puerto Rican Support to Orlando Win

Relaxed Race: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida enjoys a laugh in the closing stages of a landslide comeback to Congress. He won by cultivating massive support from Puerto Rican voters in the Orlando area.
Sarah M. Brown
Relaxed Race: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida enjoys a laugh in the closing stages of a landslide comeback to Congress. He won by cultivating massive support from Puerto Rican voters in the Orlando area.

By Mark I. Pinsky

Published November 13, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

Grayson, 54, first used a fat campaign war chest and high-name recognition to pre-empt the Democratic field in the new, strongly Hispanic district he announced for shortly after his 2010 election loss. The winner of the GOP primary (in which few Hispanics voted) was an underfunded, ultra-conservative, Anglo trial lawyer named Todd Long — a twice failed congressional candidate with a DUI conviction who had to be removed by police from a Central Florida mall and in 2007 was found passed out on the sidewalk in Tallahassee. A vociferous opponent of immigration reform, he supported English as an official language and made disparaging remarks about undocumented workers.

“Todd Long is too extreme for Central Florida,” Grayson crowed in a post-primary press release exulting in his opponent’s victory. “He wants to raise the retirement age to at least 70, privatize Social Security, dismantle Medicare, eliminate federal student loans and drill for oil in Florida, both offshore and onshore.”

Some Republican Party decision makers appeared to agree. Long was quietly elbowed off the stage when GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan spoke at a campaign event in Orlando. Several days later, Long told a conservative radio interviewer that he felt like he had been thrown overboard by the Republican Party. By the closing days of the campaign, Long was reduced to waving signs at intersections.

Long also made religion a conspicuous part of his campaign. He told the editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel that Grayson was “the most anti-Christian congressman probably we’ve ever had in our history.” In a subsequent interview with Hispanic radio, Long charged that his opponent wanted to “kick Christianity out of this country.” Notwithstanding the slur, Grayson agreed to debate Long on Rosh Hashanah. (“I’m no Sandy Koufax,” he acknowledged.)

A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Grayson made several small fortunes before entering politics: in the telecommunications boom, on Wall Street and in his law practice, suing defense contractors for Iraq War profiteering. He largely self-financed his successful 2008 campaign and, once elected, built a national following among the Democratic base through speeches — which some considered outrageous — on the House floor.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • 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.
  • 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.