A proud and joyous freshman Class of 2010 made its way to Washington on Sunday for the traditional new congressmen orientation. They got to see the chambers, have their pictures taken and get a sense of the place that will be their temporary home, beginning January.
Among the newcomers was Randy Altschuler, the Jewish Republican who ran in New York’s 1st congressional district. The race in this district is not over yet and votes are still being counted, but Altschuler decided not to wait.
On election night, Altschuler’s chances did not look that great. He was trailing incumbent Democrat Timothy Bishop by more than 3,000 votes and the Associated Press called the race for Bishop. But then the results began to come in from the newly introduced computerized voting system, and Altschuler was suddenly in the lead with 383 votes over his rival. AP declared the race open again.
Now, both sides are claiming victory as they engage in post-election counting and legal battles. Altschuler wasn’t the only candidate from the district who went to Washington this week. Bishop did too, for the lame duck session and to begin planning for next Congress, of which he thinks he’ll still be a member.
For Republicans, Altschuler is more than just another pin on the map of congressional victories. If he does make it to the House, he will also relieve Eric Cantor from his years’-long status of being the only Jewish Republican in Congress.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Mr. Altschuler Goes To Washington