CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published September 12, 2003, issue of September 12, 2003.

Republican Rise: Among the interesting data released in the Voter News Service’s long-delayed 2002 election exit-polling report were statistics noting a rise of Republican voting among Jews. The VNS, controlled by a consortium of news organizations, collapsed last year because of technical problems, but enough of its report was salvageable to provide some credible data and to make the day of Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. According to the polling, the number of Jews voting Republican grew to 35% from the 21% to 26% percent of Jews who voted for Republicans in midterm and presidential elections in other years since 1992. “This data simply confirms what we have been saying all along,” Brooks crowed. Uh-huh. The RJC just named the executive director of its much-heralded New York office: Greg Menken, who was Jewish community liaison for Governor George Pataki.

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Victuals With the Veep: Expect an Orthodox crowd at the October 24 fundraiser for Vice President Dick Cheney in Manhattan: Jewish dietary laws will be observed at the $2,000-a-plate bash at the Waldorf-Astoria. “Kosher for Cheney?” Now that’s a slogan. It’s all part of the White House’s cultivation of a new generation of young, conservative Jewish activists in New York.

In other food-related news, First Lady Laura Bush will headline a fundraiser October 9 at the Rainbow Room, at that art deco masterpiece, Rockefeller Center. It is $1,000 and $2,000 for those tickets. Art deco seems to be theme with the Bush-Cheney crowd. The Waldorf, another sleek deco landmark, is emerging as the city’s “Republican Central”: It hosted the Republican National Committee’s recent planning meeting for the 2004 RNC convention in New York.

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Bush’s Ethnic Bag: The Bush-Cheney campaign has hired Tennessee operative Michael Lebovitz as its Jewish outreach coordinator. Lebovitz is said to be close to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

In other Bush-Cheney news, the campaign’s “specialty” (read: ethnic) media shop is starting out of the gate with five operatives and will likely grow, according to its director, Sharon Castillo. “We will leave no group unattended,” Castillo told the Forward. “It’s shocking that only 12% of the population get their news from the five national newspapers. Everybody else gets news from the regional and specialty media.” Right now the expertise in house is broad, Castillo said, encompassing everyone from “Greeks… [to] sportsmen.” In yet another sign, if we needed one, that the Republicans want to wrest the Hispanic vote from the Dems, Castillo is a former reporter with the nation’s two largest Spanish-language networks, Univision and Telemundo.



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