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A guide to the 23 US Jewish Democratic incumbents running on Tuesday

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30.10.2020

JTA — Two Jewish Democrats are retiring from Congress this year, and one is being forced out after he lost his primary. But that leaves 23 incumbent Jewish Democrats seeking to hold onto their seats in the House of Representatives in next week’s election.

They join four Senate candidates, 10 Republican House candidates and 11 first-time Democratic challengers vying for spots in the Jewish delegation in the next Congress.

As is the case for the vast majority of congressional districts, most of the races are not competitive. But at least a few are.

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Here’s a full guide to the incumbent Democrats looking to secure their seats on Tuesday.

California

Adam Schiff, 62
28th District, including West Hollywood and Burbank

Background: Schiff, who has been in Congress since 2001, is the current chair of the House Intelligence Committee and led the impeachment of US President Donald Trump. With a large Armenian representation in his district, Schiff also continues to be the foremost lawmaker advocating for recognition of the 1915 Ottoman-era massacres as a genocide, and he has said his Jewish sensibility is one reason for his advocacy.

Big issue: A fixture on cable news, Schiff reminds Americans of Russia’s efforts to get Trump elected in 2016 and reelected this year. Trump despises him, has called for his prosecution and jailing, and calls him “Little Adam Schiff,” although Schiff is 6 feet tall, and “Shifty Schiff,” a moniker seen by some as anti-Semitic.

Backers: DMFI PAC, JACPAC, JDCA

Odds: Schiff is a shoo-in.

Brad Sherman, 65
30th District, including the San Fernando Valley and Simi Hills in the Los Angeles area

Background: In Congress since 1997, Sherman is in the running to become the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, replacing New York’s Eliot Engel, who was primaried out of his job this summer. He is competing for the post with Joaquin Castro of Texas and Gregory Meeks of New York. Sherman has also been a lead sponsor of legislation commemorating the Holocaust, countering anti-Semitism, and protecting Israel’s qualitative military edge. In 2011, he introduced a bill to keep cities from banning circumcision after San Francisco considered the prohibition. He was spurred into action in part by an anti-Semitic cartoon villain, “Monster Mohel.” (And you have not existed in Washington until you’ve heard him say he’s from the “best-named town in California, Sherman Oaks.”)

Big issue: Sherman is a foreign policy hawk and is close to the mainstream pro-Israel community. He was among the minority of Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal, and he was on the board of the Israel Project when it was a powerhouse in the 2000s. He is passionate about foreign affairs and has chaired two subcommittees, on terrorism and on Asia.

Endorsements: DMFI PAC, Pro-Israel America

Odds: FiveThirtyEight, the polling site, gives Sherman a greater than 99 in 100 chance of winning over his Republican challenger, Mark Reed.

Alan Lowenthal, 79
47th District, including Long Beach and parts of Orange County

Background: Lowenthal has served in Congress since 2013. He led passage last year of a resolution recommitting Democrats to a two-state solution, timed to send a signal to the Trump administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who were moving away from the outcome. He endeavored to bring Republicans on board, but only five signed on. His kids recall singing Bob Dylan songs on Shabbat. One of his sons, Josh, has lived in Israel, and when Josh ran for state assembly he was the target of an anti-Semitic ad, for which his opponent apologized.

Big issue: Repairing and building infrastructure while maintaining environmental protections.

Odds: 538 gives Lowenthal a greater than 99 in 100 chances of defeating John Briscoe, a Republican.

Mike Levin, 42
42nd District, covering the northern part of San Diego County

Background: Levin is an environmental attorney, and as a freshman seeking his second term, he scored coveted positions on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Select Committee on the climate crisis.

Big issue: Climate change.

Endorsements: Barack Obama, DMFI PAC, J Street, JACPAC, JDCA

Odds: The San Diego Union-Tribune says Levin is “comfortably” ahead of his opponent, Brian Maryott, in a district that has until recently trended Republican.

Lois Frankel, 72
21st District, which stretches along the coast from Delray Beach in the south to West Palm Beach

Background: Serving in Congress since 2013, Frankel has fund-raised off the extremist views of her opponent, Laura Loomer. “It’s our big chance to set the record straight in a sea of lies and conspiracy theories spread by my far-right extremist opponent,” Frankel said in a fund-raising pitch. (Loomer, who is Jewish and a self-described “Islamophobe,” won the vote of Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago estate is in the district.) Frankel likes to mentor freshman congresswomen and originated the idea of having women who attend the State of the Union wear all white, in a salute to the suffragists who secured women’s right to vote a century ago.

Big issue: Top issue on her campaign website is “women’s issues.” That includes reproductive rights, fair pay and combating sexual harassment.

Endorsements: DMFI PAC, JACPAC, Pro-Israel America

Odds: Frankel will likely be wearing white at the next State of the Union; a poll this month had her leading Loomer 2-1.

Ted Deutch, 54
22nd District, which stretches up the southern Atlantic coast from Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton

Background: A congressman since 2010, Deutch chairs the House Ethics Committee, one of the most sensitive positions in Congress. Members assess alleged improprieties. Last year, he led an effort to condemn remarks by fellow House member Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that were seen as anti-Semitic and was frustrated when the resolution was watered down.

Big issues: Deutch entered Congress with foreign policy legislative experience; as a state legislator he authored one of the first bills divesting state pensions from Iran. Foreign policy remains an interest — he chairs the Middle East subcommittee — but when a gunman killed 17 people at Parkland High School in his district in 2018, Deutch became the legislative face of gun control, sponsoring an........

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