Jewish Candidates Skip New York Mayor's Race, But Crowd Vies in Los Angeles

Rare No-Jew Race in Gotham as Trio Aims for History in Calif.


By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 19, 2013, issue of February 22, 2013.
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Eric Garcetti, president of L.A.’s city council, is of mixed Jewish and Mexican ancestry. He called himself “the Kosher Burrito” in an interview with the Forward last summer. Jan Perry, a member of L.A.’s city council and an African-American Jew, told the Forward that she has “always been a seeker.”

Even candidates with more tenuous Jewish ties have tried to cash in. Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, the city controller, is married to a Jewish man. Last January, Greuel told L.A.’s Jewish Journal that she “would like to” convert to Judaism.

“I believe in the Jewish tradition and religion,” the newspaper quoted her saying.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the fact that no New York Jews are expected to win the race for mayor hasn’t stopped the candidates from making aggressive plays for their loyalty.

Just as Yaroslavsky was expected to take the Jewish bloc in L.A. if he chose to run, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer would have laid claim to a wide swath of the Jewish vote if he had stayed in the race. Instead, Stringer chose to run for city comptroller, a contest he’s expected to win.

There actually is one Jew in the New York City mayoral race. Tom Allon, a newspaper publisher, is running for mayor as a Republican, though his lack of name recognition makes him a long shot.

Democratic primary candidates such as Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson have already been photographed with Jewish leaders and appeared at Jewish events all over the city. But in New York, their efforts to win the Jewish vote are complicated by a communal diversity not seen in L.A.

“I think that the very great heterogeneity within the Jewish population in New York means that it doesn’t vote as consistently as the Jewish population in L.A.,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, arguing that the city’s Jewish voters are less uniform than their L.A. counterparts.


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