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The Ten to Watch: Where Are They Now?

In February, the Forward selected 10 top Jewish candidates to watch this election season. Eight months later, and with under two weeks before a contentious election season comes to a close, we check in with where the candidates stand today.

Connecticut Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal is leading Republican Linda McMahon in a heated campaign. Blumenthal, a five-term attorney general, recently butted heads with McMahon, best known for managing World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon questioned Blumenthal’s account of his military history after he gave speeches asserting he served in Vietnam, when he never did.

McMahon also critiqued Blumenthal’s 1989 vote for a tax increase. In turn, Blumenthal questioned whether McMahon warned a WWE doctor of an investigation of steroid use. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton, have all traveled to Connecticut to help raise money and motivate supporters. The latest Quinnipiac poll results show Blumenthal leading the campaign with 54 percent and McMahon with 43 percent — only a week after polls showed Blumenthal with a mere 3 point lead.

Democrat Ted Deutch was elected Florida’s 19th District Representative with an overwhelming majority in the April special election to fill Robert Wexler’s seat after he resigned to head the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation. In November, Deutch will face Republican candidate Joe Budd, whose “This Budd’s For You” slogan does not appear to be helping him, as the seat is being called “Safe Democrat.”

Ohio’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Lee Fisher, is trailing 22 points behind his Republican opponent Rob Portman. An October 15 University of Cincinnati poll found Portman, a former head of the federal Office of Management and Budget, to be leading with 58% of the votes, ahead of 36% for Fisher, the Buckeye State’s lieutenant governor. But polls are not Fisher’s only problem; a September 30 Federal Election Commission data report revealed Fisher’s dwindling campaign funds at only $376,000 as opposed to Portman’s $6.2 million. The lack of funding may be the reason Fisher has only had one statewide commercial this election season and may not have the money for a final push in the next two weeks.

For Paul Hodes, New Hampshire’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, things are not looking good. A University of New Hampshire poll gave him 35% of the vote, a full 15 points behind Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte’s 50%. And at $547,000, he has half the money Ayotte does for the last two weeks of the election. An October 18 debate between the two candidates concentrated on the issues of Bush-era tax cuts and cutting back spending. Hodes supports extending tax cuts for middle-class Americans, but not the wealthy, which he says would generate $700 billion in tax revenue over the next decade.

Democrat Beth Krom, a former two-term mayor of Irvine, is running against incumbent John Campbell for U.S. Congress to represent California’s 48th District. Although Campbell is pursuing the unusual strategy of acting like there’s no race on, it still looks like an uphill battle for Krom to win, as polls show her at least 20 points behind the incumbent.

Republican Josh Mandel is the youngest candidate from our list of Ten to Watch. At 33, the veteran of the Iraq war is a candidate for state treasurer of Ohio and has stirred up controversy in his state. Mandel’s campaign ran a television commercial connecting his incumbent Christian opponent, Kevin Boyce, to a mosque, while he is pictured in uniform with what appears to be a Middle Eastern background. Boyce’s campaign immediately sent Mandel a cease and desist letter requesting the commercial stop airing. Mandel received bad press for the commercial and was seen as feeding into the anti-Muslim sentiment pervading through the election this season.

Democrat Deb Markowitz, the secretary of state of Vermont, was a candidate for governor of Vermont. She lost the Democratic nomination to another Jewish candidate, Peter Shumlin (who barely leads against Republican Brian Dubie).

Another candidate to have lost his party’s nomination is Republican Steve Poizner, who had his eyes set on becoming governor of California. He lost the Republican primary to Meg Whitman, who faces Democrat Jerry Brown in the general election.

Republican Jay Ramras, a representative in the Alaska state legislature, lost his primary bid to Alaska lieutenant governor to Mead Treadwell, running mate of GOP incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell (whose Democratic opponent is also Jewish, Ethan Berkowitz).

First-time candidate Doug Turner also lost his bid to be Republican nominee for governor of New Mexico in the June primary. Susana Martinez earned the nod, and she now leads in that races against Democrat Diane Denish.

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