A Handful of Jewish Republicans Runs Far to the Right

Embracing the Tea Party That Toppled Eric Cantor

Running Right: Adam Kwasman is one of a handful of Jewish Republicans who are running for the support of conservative Tea Party supporters like the ones who toppled GOP leader Eric Cantor.
courtesy of adam kwasman
Running Right: Adam Kwasman is one of a handful of Jewish Republicans who are running for the support of conservative Tea Party supporters like the ones who toppled GOP leader Eric Cantor.

By Nathan Guttman

Published June 17, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

As establishment Jewish conservatives sat in stunned silence recently, sitting shiva over the defeat of Republican congressional leader Eric Cantor, a younger cohort of Republican Jews were jockeying vigorously to fill the vacuum he left as Congress’s only Jewish Republican.

With months to go until the 2014 congressional elections, it is not clear whether any of them will make it to Congress. Just as pointedly, it is unclear what brand of politics any putative successor to Cantor might bring.

But if the candidate who is considered the Jewish Republican with the best shot to win has his way, don’t look for a simple restoration of Cantor’s tight relationship with Wall Street and big tent approach to working with both establishment Republicans and hard-right tea party activists.

“We need to have some kosher tea in the United States,” declared Adam Kwasman, who is running for Congress in Arizona. “With Eric Cantor’s loss, a new generation of new Jewish Republicans are ready to take the mantle.” Not all Jewish Republican candidates campaigning now align themselves with the GOP’s Tea Party wing. But all take great pains to make clear that they are sympathetic to right-wing elements within their party that have become a deciding force in many races.

In an interview with the Forward, Lee Zeldin, a candidate for Congress in New York’s 1rst congressional district, called tea party activists in his district “great Americans” who wish to promote transparency and accountability. The tea party activists “are not what the Democrats are trying to paint,” argued Zeldin, a Republican state senator who is running for a district that includes most of Long Island.

Zeldin’s campaign got some unexpected national media attention recently when a fundraising event starring Cantor that had been planned weeks earlier became the venue for the former Republican Majority Leader’s first public appearance following his defeat.

“As Jews we have studied the Torah,” Cantor told participants at the June 14 Southampton event. “We read every week in some way, shape or form, and are reminded about personal setbacks. But we are also reminded about optimism of the future, about that bigger goal, that bigger vision that we as Jews are about.”

Proving he was still a donor magnet, Cantor raked in more than $100,000 for Zeldin’s campaign chest.

“Eric guaranteed there is a place at the table for people of our faith,” Zeldin told the Forward before the event. “There is definitely a vacuum left.”

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!
  • 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.
  • "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:
  • 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.