Paul Aronsohn, a former Clinton staffer who is challenging conservative Republican Scott Garrett in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, is one of a dozen Jewish Dems challenging for Republican-held seats in the House.
Although his race isn’t seen as among the highly competitive cohort, Aronsohn has gained 9 percentage points on Garrett since last March, according to internal polling. And the conservatism of Garrett on a host of social issues puts him far to the right of many district residents, who were long loyal to moderate Republican Marge Roukema. With Foleygate blowing over D.C. like a ton of bricks, who knows?
A Ridgewood resident who attends the Reform Temple Sholom in River Edge, Aronsohn recently took the plunge on Colbert Report, the video of which is on his Web site.
During a twenty-minute phone conversation yesterday, I asked Aronsohn – who calls himself an “ardent supporter” of Israel – what he makes of polling that shows that self-identified Republicans are far more supportive of Israel than self-identified Democrats.
Like most Democratic leaders, he didn’t seem to have much of an answer: “I think Americans should be educated more about a lot of issues, particularly on Israel,” he told me.
Wherever the hearts and minds of average Democrats may be, Aronsohn, like many of the Jewish candidates, is decidedly pro-Israel and hawkish on Iran:
On Israel: “I’m an ardent and firm supporter of the State of Israel … in the wake of the Hezbollah attacks … I did not only believe fervently that Israel has a right to repsond, [I said] it has a responsibility to respond. Then people would say, ‘But don’t you think the response was not proportional?’ I’m not going to second-guess the Israeli generals.”
On Iran: “A nuclear equipped Iran is beyond dangerous. We cannot allow it to happen.” Aronsohn said he favored keeping military options on the table.
What will this disconnect mean long-term?