Arlen Specter

Sestak-Toomey Senate race in Pa. shaping up as critical test for J Street

Want to know just how well the fierce campaign by pro-Israel hawks to delegitimze J Street is working? Then pay close attention to the Senate race in Pennsylvania.

This week J Street, the pro-peace process, pro-Israel (don't bother sending nasty emails, I know your arguments) political action committee and lobby, endorsed Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democrat who unseated Sen. Arlen Specter, most recently a Democrat as well, in last week's primary.

Primary roundup: Sen. Arlen Specter loses; will Rand Paul's civil rights stance turn off Jewish voters?

It's going to be real interesting to see how conservative Jewish voters react to the remarkable ascendance of Rand Paul, who won the Kentucky senatorial primary last week.

Unlike his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Rand is a supporter of Israel and sometimes sounds like he's reading from AIPAC talking points.

But he shares the libertarian hostility to most government programs and the Federal Reserve system, and he managed to stir up huge controversy this week with this comments about civil rights. While he says he doesn't favor repeal of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, he doesn't support federal civil rights legislation, and he doesn't support laws that ban discrimination by private businesses, such as restaurants.

The perils of Arlen: does Specter have an Elena Kagan problem?

As if he needed more tsuris in in his fight for a sixth term – this time as a Democrat – Sen. Arlen Specter, the veteran Jewish lawmaker,  now may have a major Elena Kagan problem.

Kagan is President Obama's nominee to fill the seat of the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, and Specter – back when he was a Republican, which was after he was Democrat – voted against her last year when Obama appointed her solicitor general.

Jews in Trouble on Capitol Hill

In the Jewish-legislators-in-trouble department, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis) could face his stiffest challenge yet, if current polls are accurate.

According to a survey conducted for Wisconsin Public Radio, Feingold, who is in his third term, trails former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican who hasn't even announced his candidacy yet, by 12 points.

Here's a link to the survey.

Specter's Defection: Unbridled Ambition, Not Ideology

04/29/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

1980 was a golden year for Jewish Republicans. That November Ronald Reagan won nearly 40 percent of the Jewish vote for the presidency, a modern record for the GOP and a mark that they have never come close to achieving since then.

And Then Were None: Jewish GOP Caucus Down to One

Specter party switch leaves Senate with no Jewish Republicans

04/29/2009
Washington Correspondent

The Jewish Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate evaporated into thin air on Tuesday with Sen. Arlen Specter’s stunning announcement that he is switching parties because “the Republican Party has moved far to the right.”
That represents a huge boost for Senate Democrats, who were two votes short of a 60-vote “super majority” that would make it easier to end GOP filibusters, and for an Obama administration with an aggressive legislative agenda that has been slowed by Senate Republicans.

Few Jewish responses to Obama health care speech

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 A handful of Jewish groups responded positively to last night’s presidential address on health care reform, and many White House observers said it was an oratorical triumph.  

More homeland security money for Jewish institutions?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 Some Jewish leaders were initially uneasy about pressing for homeland security money from the federal government to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and other institutions, but that unease has largely evaporated - in part because of the incredible success of the effort to make sure Jewish groups get their fair share - and then  some - of the money, in part because of recent incidents involving such institutions.

Specter forgets which party he’s in, endorses Coleman bid

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 No doubt Senate Democrats are happy that Sen. Arlen Specter now has a “D-Pa.” next to his name instead of an “R,” but there will occasional second thoughts when the unpredictable lawmaker’s foot finds its way into his mouth. It happened again this week, when Specter seemed to forget which party he now  calls home. In a New York Times Magazine interview, Specter was asked if he cares that, because of his party switch, there are now no Jewish Republicans in the Senate.

Jewish Democrats, Republicans spin Specter switch

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Twenty four hours after Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection from the Republicans to the Democrats, you can see the spin machines on both sides of the aisle grinding out what they hope will become the central narratives of this political game changer.  Yesterday the leading Jewish Democrats and Republicans offered the Jewish Week what  turned out to be perfect distillations of their respective parties’ Specter spins.
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