Jewish contingent in House grows from 19 to 23

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Jewish contingent to the U.S. House of Representatives grew from 19 to 23 in Tuesday’s elections, doubling its Republican representation from one to two.

Five Jews overall were newly elected to the House, while one Jewish congressman in Florida is retiring. The Senate Jewish contingent dropped from nine to eight.

The wins included three Democrats who picked up seats from Republicans, in an otherwise dismal night for their party, which saw the GOP sweep the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Picking up seats for Democrats were:

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–Josh Gottheimer, a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton and a Microsoft executive, won a hard fought battle in New Jersey’s 5th district against Scott Garrett, a longtime Congressman who was exceptionally conservative for this northeastern district. The election was marred in its final days with the appearance of an unsigned anti-Semitic leaflet targeting Gottheimer.

–In Illinois’s 10th district, encompassing Chicago’s northern suburbs, Brad Schneider, regained the seat he lost in 2014 from Bob Dold, in a back and forth that has lasted since Dold first won the seat in 2010, only to lose it to Schneider in 2012.

–Jacky Rosen, a software developer and synagogue president, won in Nevada’s 3rd district, covering Las Vegas’ suburbs. Joe Heck, the district’s incumbent Republican, ran to replace Democrat Harry Reid in the Senate, but lost.

Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state senator, won the battle to replace Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th district, which includes Washington DC’s Maryland suburbs; Van Hollen, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate.

David Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney, handily kept Tennessee’s 8th district Republican, replacing Stephen Fincher, who is retiring. He brings to two the Memphis Jewish delegation, joining Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing the state’s 9th district, and the Republican Jewish delegation to Congress, joining Lee Zeldin, who was reelected in New York’s 9th district, encompassing Long Island’s eastern reaches.

Another Jewish Republican scoring a victory on Tuesday was Eric Greitens, a former Navy Seal who was elected governor of Missouri.

Leaving Congress is Alan Grayson, who retired as a representative in Florida’s 9th district, in the south of the state, to run for the Democratic nomination to the Senate – which he lost.

The Democratic contingent in the Senate will drop from nine to eight, with the retirement of Barbara Boxer of California. Two Jewish Democrats failed in their bids to replace Republican incumbents, in Missouri and Wisconsin.

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