House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Tuesday night primary loss is also a defeat for another group: Jewish Republicans.
Cantor is the only Jewish GOP lawmaker in Congress. Unless at least one Jewish Republican wins his or her congressional race in November there will be no Jewish Republicans on Captiol Hill for the next legislative session. In contrast, Democrats have around 30 Jewish members of Congress.
Jeff Ballabon, a Republican operative who has reportedly helped presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and George W. Bush do outreach to the Jewish community, told Jewish Insider he was especially struck by Cantor’s loss.
“He’s a good friend, a dedicated public servant, a trailblazer and an outstanding role model. While his leadership in Congress most surely will be missed, he’s a great patriot and a proud Jew who will continue to be an influential leader,” Ballabon said. “Sorry to see a friend go, but in the big picture, it high time the GOP paid more attention to its conservative base.”
Although Cantor is by far the most prominent Jewish Republican in Washington, the party may still field some Jewish candidates in the 2014 election cycle. For example, Jewish New York State Senator Lee Zeldin is hoping to unseat Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop. However Zeldin has to get through his GOP primary first. Before his loss, Cantor scheduled a fund-raiser for Zeldin this Saturday.
Matthew Brooks, the executive director Republican Jewish Coalition, told Politico he expects new Jewish voices to step forward in the party.
“There are other leaders who will emerge, but Eric was unique and it will take time and there’s nobody quite like Eric in the House to immediately fill those shoes,” Brooks said. “I was certainly hoping that Eric was going to be our first Jewish speaker.”
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