National Roundup

Kagen Wins in Wisconsin

By Jennifer Siegel, JTA

Published September 15, 2006, issue of September 15, 2006.
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The Democratic quest to take back the House of Representatives this November will rest, in part, on Steve Kagen, the victor in a crowded Democratic primary in Wisconsin’s eighth congressional district.

Kagen, 56, a Jewish doctor from the city of Appletown, handily won Tuesday’s three-way contest, garnering 47% of the vote with 87% of precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns that became available Wednesday morning.

In the general election, he will challenge Republican state representative John Gard for an open seat that will be vacated by Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green.

Although the district leans Republican, both major parties are eyeing the seat for November.

Before the primary, the National Republican Congressional Committee ran ads criticizing Kagen, a wealthy owner of allergy clinics who has lent $1.4 million to his own campaign, for suing 80 of his patients. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun airing commercials attacking Gard for his ties to “big oil.”

Cardin Takes Maryland Vote

Veteran Rep. Ben Cardin was the victor in Tuesday’s 18-way Democratic primary for the Maryland Senate seat held by retiring Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes. With 93% of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Cardin had captured 46% of the vote, with his closest rival, Kweisi Mfume, former congressman and past leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, at 38%. At press time, Mfume had not officially conceded the race.

One of Baltimore’s best-known Jewish figures, Cardin will face Republican Lieut. Gov. Michael Steele, an African American, in November. While a Rasmussen Reports poll shows Cardin edging out Steele 45%-40% in a general election contest.

From Vermont to Arizona

Kagen and Cardin were not the only Jewish winners Tuesday.

Two Jewish Democrats in Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords and Ellen Simon, won their primaries. Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent, comfortably won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Vermont, and Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general, came one step closer to the governor’s mansion by picking up the Democratic nomination easily.

Douglas Gansler won the Democratic nomination for attorney general in Maryland.

Tight Races in Brooklyn

In the conclusion of a racially divisive Democratic primary in Brooklyn, a Jewish city council member, David Yassky, lost to a black city council member, Yvette Clarke, one of three African American candidates who sought to represent New York’s 11th congressional district.

With all precincts reporting, Clarke garnered 31% of the vote to Yassky’s 26%. State Senator Carl Andrews had 23%, and Christopher Owens, son of retiring incumbent Rep. Major Owens, finished with 20%.

Yassky, who raised significantly more money than his competitors, faced sharp criticism for moving his residence several blocks in order to run in the district, which is 60% African American. Yassky’s detractors accused him of hoping to capitalize from a split black vote.

Clarke had faced criticism when it came to light that she had lied about graduating from college. On election day, some Brooklyn neighborhoods were reportedly blanketed with fliers that claimed she had dropped out of the race because of the revelation.

Also in Brooklyn, Alec Brook-Krasny, 48, prevailed over fellow Russian Jewish immigrant Ari Kagan 51%-49% in the Democratic primary for New York’s 46th district state Assembly seat. Due to the district’s heavily Democratic electorate, Brook-Krasny is expected to sail to victory in November.

While the primary marks the arrival of recent Russian Jewish immigrants on the American political scene, the race often had been a rancorous one, with Brook-Krasny accusing Kagan of ties to the KGB, and the 39-year-old Kagan — who worked for the Russian-language Forward newspaper for a decade — countering that Brook-Krasny supported the increasingly authoritarian Vladimir Putin.

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