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A guide to Jewish House candidates in the 2018 elections

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In advance of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, JTA has broken down the races, assessing where the candidates stand on the political spectrum, noting their Jewish involvement and reporting what the forecasters say.

There are 15 Jewish Republican candidates running in U.S. House of Representatives races this fall. Two are incumbents and 13 are challengers.

Among the 36 Jewish Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives in November, 18 are incumbents and an equal number are challengers.

Three Jewish Democrats are leaving the House: Sandy Levin of Michigan is retiring, Jacky Rosen of Nevada is running for the Senate and Jared Polis of Colorado is a candidate for governor.

The Jewish House candidates listed here are broken down by state and whether they are incumbents or challengers. (The prospects for election are based on the 538 blog unless otherwise noted.)



Lee Zeldin, 1st District, eastern Long Island, in Congress since 2015.
Known for: Zeldin embraces Trump’s policies on stemming undocumented immigration and has sponsored legislation that would revoke the citizenship of Americans found to be members of gangs.
Jewish stuff: Zeldin has joined and in some cases led numerous legislative efforts championed by the centrist and right-wing pro-Israel community. He was a leading opponent of the Iran deal.
Endorsements: The Republican Jewish Coalition PAC and right-wing pro-Israel PACs like American Principles, as well as Trump.
Prospects: A 6 in 7 chance winning.

David Kustoff, 8th District, parts of Memphis and western Tennessee, in Congress since 2017.
Known for: Law and order. Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney in Tennessee, has initiated bills that aim to reduce opioid usage and preserve tough sentencing guidelines for criminals who use arms.
Jewish stuff: Kustoff garnered bipartisan support for a bill, which recently passed, that enhances penalties for attacks on religious institutions.
Endorsements: The center-right pro-Israel PAC, Washington PAC; Trump.
Prospects: 99 percent chance to be re-elected.



Ron Cohen, 17th District, covering Silicon Valley, challenging incumbent Democrat Ro Khanna.

Know this: Cohen advanced theories that the 9/11 attacks in 2001 were an inside job, that Michelle Obama is a man and that the Obamas’ children were sired by others. He apologized for some of these theories, but the local GOP pulled its endorsement.
Prospects: So poor, Cohen advises visitors to his campaign website to donate to someone else.


Joe Kaufman, 23rd District, covering parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, challenging Wasserman Schultz.
Know this: This is Kaufman’s fourth attempt to unseat Wasserman Schultz. He is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Mag.
Prospects: Nil.


Joseph Schneider, 6th District, in the state’s northeast corner, challenging incumbent Democrat Seth Moulton.
Know this: Schneider’s family fled from communist Romania when he was a child, and he became a Green Beret. Though he told the Boston Globe that he is not a fan of Trump’s “cult of personality,” he also told the Lynn Daily Item that he appreciates Trump for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and for his tough posture on Iran.
Prospects: Nearly nonexistent: 1 in 99 shot.


Lena Epstein, 11th District, northwest of Detroit, running to replace retiring Republican incumbent Dave Trott.
Know this: Epstein, who chaired Trump’s campaign in the state, wrote an op-ed titled “Why this Jewish millennial woman supports Trump” following the revelation that Trump had bragged about sexual assault. In June, after the Jewish-founded Franklin Hills Country Club canceled a fundraiser for her, she decried a lack of civil engagement in the Jewish community.
Endorsements: Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump.
Prospects: Not great: a 1 in 6 chance.

Marc Herschfus, 14th District, encompassing part of Detroit and northern suburbs, challenging incumbent Democrat Brenda Lawrence.
Know this: The district includes a substantial population of Chaldeans, the ancient community of Iraqi Christians who speak a version of Aramaic. He says that as a Jew he feels an affinity with the group, noting that both communities have preserved the Aramaic language.
Prospects: Nil.


Seth Grossman, 2nd District, encompassing the state’s south. His opponent is state Sen. Jeff Van Drew.
Know this: The National Republican Congressional Committee has cut off this former Atlantic City councilor, who has on his Facebook page linked to racist musings. Grossman has enthusiastically embraced Trump.
Prospects: 1 in 40 shot.

Daryl Kipnis, lawyer, 12th District in the center of the state encompassing Princeton University, challenging incumbent Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Know this: Kipnis does not mention Trump on his website and favors a path to citizenship for “dreamers,” undocumented migrants who came as children. He praised Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Prospects: Extremely unlikely: a 1 in 100 shot.


Ameer Benno, 4th District, encompassing parts of Nassau County, challenging incumbent Democrat Kathleen Rice.
Know this: Benno, who has worked for Hillel International and Camp Ramah, is the president of the Merrick-Bellmore Jewish Community Council and has traveled to Israel to litigate on behalf of victims of terrorism.
Prospects: Nil.

Naomi Levin, 10th District, encompassing Manhattan’s lower West Side and portions of Brooklyn, challenging lincumbent Jerrold Nadler.
Know this: Levin’s campaign bio says she speaks four languages, including Hebrew and Russian.
Prospects: Nil.

Eliot Rabin, 12th District, encompassing Manhattan’s East Side and Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, challenging incumbent Democrat Carolyn Maloney.
Know this: Rabin, from South Carolina, is a graduate of its military school, The Citadel, and a veteran. He says he was the president of the campus Hillel. Trump’s friendship with Vladimir Putin rattles Rabin whom he calls “an out-and-out murderer.”  He favors outlawing the purchase of assault rifles.
Prospects: Nil.


Beverly Goldstein, audiologist, 11th District, runs from Cleveland south to Akron, challenging incumbent Democrat Marci Fudge.
Know this: Goldstein says she has been active in the Republican Jewish Coalition and Christians United for Israel. She has also been active with ACT! for America, a group the Anti-Defamation League calls the “largest anti-Muslim group in the United States.”
Prospects: Nil.


Bryan Leib, 3rd District covering parts of Philadelphia, challenging incumbent Dwight Evans. 
Know this: A year ago Leib, 32, made headlines in his city (and earned a spot on “Fox & Friends”) for coming out as a Republican who couldn’t get dates in a Democratic city.
Prospects: Nil.


Phillip Aronoff, 29th District, encompassing the eastern portion of the greater Houston area, running to replace incumbent Democrat Gene Green, who is retiring.
Know this: Aronoff’s campaign website does not mention Trump and he repudiates many hallmarks of the Trump presidency: Gangs pose a greater threat to Mexicans than Americans, Aronoff says, and border security “doesn’t require some big expensive wall.” He wants a path to citizenship for dreamers and wants to reinstate a work visa program for Mexicans.
Prospects: 1 in 99.




Susan Davis, 53rd District, San Diego area, in Congress since 2001.
Known for: Education advocacy. Top Democrat on the Higher Education subcommittee.
Jewish stuff: She spent time on a kibbutz in her youth and worked with Israeli at-risk youth. Davis voted in favor of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: 99 percent.

Alan Lowenthal, 47th District, Long Beach area, in Congress since 2013.
Known for: Rose from Long Beach city councilor to state assemblyman to state senator to the House with a focus on infrastructure and preserving the environment.
Jewish stuff: His son lived in Israel and is active in the liberal pro-Israel movement. A former deputy spokeswoman, Becca Brukman, founded the Congressional Jewish Staffers Association under Lowenthal’s sponsorship.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: 99 percent.

Adam Schiff, 28th District, Los Angeles County area, in Congress since 2001.
Known for: Being the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. In that capacity, the former prosecutor is a pervasive talk-show presence, seeking answers about ties between Trump and Russia.
Jewish stuff: Schiff favored the Iran nuclear deal.
Endorsements: Centrist pro-Israel PACs like the Desert Caucus, and JACPAC, the liberal Jewish PAC that also focuses on domestic issues such as reproductive rights.
Prospects: 100 percent.

Brad Sherman, 30th District, San Fernando Valley area, in Congress since 1997.
Known for: Sherman is the first lawmaker to introduce articles to impeach Trump for obstructing justice, in July 2017.
Jewish stuff: Sherman’s wife was deputy director of the State Department office monitoring antisemitism. In the 2012 election, when redistricting combined Sherman’s district with the one held by Howard Berman, he defeated the longtime Jewish congressman. Sherman is a darling of the right-wing pro-Israel community, voting against the Iran deal, and was one of the founders of The Israel Project, which makes Israel’s case to the media.
Endorsements: NORPAC, the center-right pro-Israel PAC, and others like it.
Prospects: 99 percent.


Ted Deutch, 22nd District, encompassing parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, in Congress since 2010.
Known for: An outspoken advocate for gun control.
Jewish stuff: Deutch has been a leader on issues favored by the centrist pro-Israel community, including the effort to enshrine into law a definition of antisemitism that includes some forms of anti-Israel expression. He voted against the Iran nuclear deal. He is the top Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee and a member of a House task force on antisemitism.
Endorsements: Center-right pro-Israel PACs like Bi-County and Desert Caucus, and JACPAC.
Prospects: 99 percent.

Lois Frankel, 21st District, running from Pompano Beach in the north to Delray Beach in the south, in Congress since 2013.
Known for: Taking the lead on women’s issues, particularly reproductive rights. She led more than 100 House Democrats in calling on the Senate to delay hearings on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court while the FBI investigated allegations of sexual assault.
Jewish stuff: Frankel voted against the Iran nuclear deal and has joined a number of other centrist-pro-Israel measures.
Endorsements: JACPAC and center-right pro-Israel PACs like the Florida-based SunPAC.
Prospects: Running unopposed.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 23rd District, covering parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, in Congress since 2005.
Known for: Wasserman Schultz was a deputy whip by her sophomore term. She backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential race and later helped lead a get-out-the-vote drive for Obama in Florida’s Jewish community, for which she was anointed chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She came under fire when a Russia-based hack of the DNC’s emails revealed her dislike for Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, although she did not take actions against his candidacy. She resigned under pressure but survived a Sanders-backed challenger in her district.
Jewish stuff: In her first term, Wasserman Schultz passed the law that created Jewish American Heritage Month. She launched her political career as a staffer with the National Jewish Democratic Council. She voted for the Iran deal, but was driven to tears in saying how hard it was for her to make a decision “as a Jewish mother.”
Endorsements: JACPAC.
Prospects: 99 percent.


Jan Schakowsky, 9th District, covering parts of Chicago and some of its northern suburbs, in Congress since 1999.
Known for: Being a leading progressive in the party. She currently chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Health Task Force. She is chief deputy whip.
Jewish stuff: She was among the first Jewish incumbents to accept the endorsement of J Street. Voted for the Iran deal and boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the deal.
Endorsements: JACPAC and (naturally) J Street.
Prospects: 99 percent.

Brad Schneider, 10th District, covering Chicago’s northern suburbs, in Congress since 2017, also from 2013 to 2015.
Known for: Being the moderate Democrat who won the back-and-forth battles for this district with Bob Dold, a moderate Republican. Jewish stuff: Schneider has been a lay leader for AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee. He joined Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., in introducing a bill that would enhance cooperation between Israeli and U.S. law enforcement. Schneider was not present for the Iran deal vote, but flew in for Netanyahu’s speech to demonstrate his opposition to the deal.
Endorsements: JACPAC and an array of centrist and right-wing pro-Israel PACs.
Prospects: 99 percent.


John Yarmuth, 73rd District, covering Louisville and environs, in Congress since 2007.
Known for: Yarmuth wants to roll back some of the recent tax cuts. He’s among those considering Medicare-for-all health care reform, and says that if Democrats win in November, he’ll want to look at Trump’s tax returns. Voted for the Iran deal.
Jewish stuff: Yarmuth once told an interviewer that he grew up in the Louisville JCC, in its sports programs and youth groups. Initially he was a Reagan Republican, but left the party in part because of the rise of the evangelical right.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: 99 percent.


Jamie Raskin, 8th District, encompassing Washington’s suburbs, in Congress since 2017.
Known for: An expert on the Constitution, Raskin is seeking legislative means to oust Trump.
Jewish stuff: As a member of the Maryland Senate, Raskin is a leading church-state separationist who calls himself “100 percent” and “emphatically” Jewish. He was not in Congress to vote on the Iran deal, but has defended it.
Endorsements: JACPAC, J Street and Our Revolution, the PAC that sprung out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
Prospects: Shoo-in.


Josh Gottheimer, 5th District, the state’s northernmost, encompassing suburbs of New York and rural areas, in Congress since 2017.
Known for: Wresting the district from right-wing Republican Scott Garrett in 2016. He was a speechwriter during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Jewish stuff: Gottheimer’s pro-Israel politics are conservative. He says he would have voted against the Iran deal had he been in Congress.
Endorsements: JACPAC, center-right pro-Israel PACs like NORPAC, and the centrist Jewish Democratic Council of America PAC
Prospects: A 29 in 30 chance of winning..


Eliot Engel, 16th District, stretching north from the Bronx to Scarsdale in suburban Westchester County, in Congress since 1989.
Known for: Being half of one of the few productive bipartisan partnerships remaining in Congress with Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif. Royce and Eliot, respectively the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, last month listed 10 bills that passed committee with support from both parties, including sanctions on Iran. Engel helped lead congressional advocacy for Kosovo independence, and the country has named a street for him and issued a stamp with his image.
Jewish stuff: Engel frequently visits Israel, and is one of the leading sponsors of Israel and Jewish-related legislation. He voted against the Iran deal.
Endorsements: Center-right pro-Israel PACs like NORPAC.
Prospects: Uncontested.

Nita Lowey, 17th District, encompassing parts of Westchester and Rockland Counties, in Congress since 1989.
Known for: Lowey for years has been the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, considered one of the most powerful positions in the House. Unusually, she also maintains the top Democratic position on the committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, where she works closely with the Republican chairwoman, Kay Granger of Texas, in another rare instance of bipartisan comity.
Jewish stuff: Lowey is a regular at pro-Israel events. One of the reasons she maintained her presence on the foreign operations subcommittee is to continue to wield influence on spending related to the U.S.-Israel relationship. She voted against the Iran deal.
Endorsements: Center-right pro-Israel PACs like Washington PAC.
Prospects: 99 percent.

Jerrold Nadler, 10th District, encompassing Manhattan’s Lower West Side and portions of Brooklyn, in Congress since 1992.
Known for: Being the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee should Democrats retake the House. Nadler will have subpoena power to investigate alleged Trump administration improprieties.
Jewish stuff: Nadler is centrist pro-Israel, and also has advanced legislation dealing with Holocaust restitution. He also speaks for imprisoned Jews, having advocated for the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and for Jacob Ostreicher, who was held in Bolivia in the early part of this decade. Voted for the Iran deal.
Endorsements: No notable pro-Israel PAC has endorsed Nadler this cycle.
Prospects: 99 percent.


Suzanne Bonamici, 1st District, in the state’s northwest corner and including part of Portland, in Congress since 2012.
Known for: Education policy. She helped lead passage in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which addressed criticisms of the No Child Left Behind Act passed a decade earlier.
Jewish stuff: Bonamici did not register on the Jewish radar until February 2017 when she joined every Jewish House Democrat in urging Trump “as Jewish members of Congress” not to sign an executive order that would allow religious organizations to discriminate based on same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and transgender identity. Unlike most Congress members, she does not list her religion in congressional directories, but a spokeswoman confirmed sheis Jewish.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: 99 percent.


David Cicilline, 1st District, encompassing most of Providence, in Congress since 2011.
Known for: Advocacy of LGBT issues. Cicilline was the first gay mayor of Providence. He also has taken up gun control, introducing legislation that would keep guns from being untraceable and renew the ban on assault rifles.
Jewish stuff: Cicilline has backed center-right pro-Israel legislation, including the Taylor Force Act, which slashed funding to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority continued payouts to the families of Palestinians captured or killed while attacking Israelis. He voted for the Iran deal.
Endorsements: JACPAC.
Prospects: 99 percent.


Steve Cohen, 9th District, including most of Memphis, in Congress since 2007.
Known for: Representing a black majority district. Cohen tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus. He has become a leading progressive in the Democratic caucus. He is the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s Constitution subcommittee, and has introduced articles of impeachment against Trump.
Jewish stuff: Cohen was one of J Street’s first Jewish endorsees. In the state Senate in the 1980s, he initiated the legislation that established Tennessee’s Holocaust commission, one of the first such bodies in the United States. He voted for the Iran deal.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: Shoo-in.




Mike Levin, 49th District, San Diego coast and north. Republican Darrell Issa is retiring.
Know this: Levin harbors resentment that his grandfather, a World War II veteran, had to change the name of his Los Angeles-area carpet and drapery business from Levin Interiors to Dean Interiors (named after James Dean) because of antisemitism.
Endorsements: JACPAC, J Street, JDCA, former President Barack Obama — significant because Obama is picking challengers he believes have a chance.
Prospects: It looks like Levin will flip this red district to blue.


Lauren Baer, 18th District, stretching north from Palm Beach. Challenging incumbent Republican Brian Mast.
Know this: An adviser to secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and to U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.
Endorsements: JACPAC, J Street, Jewish Democratic Council of America, Obama.
Prospects: Weak: a 1 in 8 shot.

David Holden, 19th District, on the southwest coast. Challenging incumbent Republican Francis Rooney.
Know this: Holden’s campaign emphasis is on the effect of climate change on the local tourism industry.
Prospects: Very weak: a 1 in 80 shot.

David Shapiro, 16th District, covering Florida’s central-west coast, including Sarasota. Challenging incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan.
Know this: Shapiro, who has served on his synagogue board, has stressed preserving the social safety net. He has been outspoken in his opposition to LGBT rights.
Endorsements: The Human Rights Campaign. Prospects: Weak: 1 in 8 chance.


Liz Watson, 9th District, stretching south from Indianapolis to the Kentucky border. Challenging incumbent Republican Trey Hollingsworth.
Know this: Watson begins her Israel position paper in Hebrew with the “Hineh mah tov” psalm, “How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together.”
Endorsements: J Street, Our Revolution.
Prospects: So-so at 2 in 9 chance.


Andy Levin, 9th District, covering Detroit’s northern suburbs, running to replace retiring Democrat Sandy Levin, his father.
Know this: Levin’s family has deep roots in Michigan: His father is the dean of congressional Jewish members, serving since 1983, and his uncle, Carl, was the state’s longtime senator. Andy Levin is chair of the Detroit Jews for Justice steering committee.
Endorsements: Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Prospects: Shoo-in.

Elissa Slotkin, 8th District, covering parts of the state’s Southeast, including East Lansing, challenging incumbent Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.
Know this: Slotkin has worked for the CIA and the Bush National Security Council. She emphasizes preserving Obama-era health care protections, and has talked about her national security credentials.
Endorsements: Jewish Democratic Council of America, JACPAC, Obama.
Prospects: Looking good: a 5 in 9 chance.


Dean Phillips, 3rd District, covering areas and suburbs west of Minneapolis, challenging incumbent Republican Erik Paulsen.
Know this: Phillips’ birth father, Artie Pfefer, was a U.S. Army captain killed in action in Vietnam and never met his son. His mother remarried Edward Phillips, a distillery heir and the son of the original Dear Abby, Pauline Phillips.
Endorsements: Jewish Democratic Council of America, Obama.
Prospects: Very good: 5 in 6 chance of winning.


Dana Balter, 24th District, in the state’s northwest, fronting on Lake Ontario, challenging incumbent Republican John Katko.
Know this: Balter has said her Holocaust survivor grandparents and her Jewish education helped shape her commitment to help the persecuted.
Endorsements: Unions, Obama, Our Revolution.
Prospects: Not strong: 1 in 6 shot.

Perry Gershon, 1st District, covering eastern Long Island, challenging Lee Zeldin.
Know this: Gershon credits his political ambitions to a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he saw an exhibit on the rise of authoritarianism.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: Not strong: 1 in 7 shot.

Max Rose, 11th District, encompassing Staten Island, challenging incumbent Republican Daniel Donovan.
Know this: Rose, 31, is an Afghanistan war combat veteran who earned a Purple Heart.
Endorsements: JACPAC.
Prospects: Not great: 1 in 4.


Kathy Manning, 13th District, encompassing Greensboro, challenging incumbent Republican Ted Budd.
Know this: Manning was the first woman to chair the Jewish Federations of North America and the founding chairwoman of Prizmah, the umbrella body for Jewish day schools of all denominations.
Endorsements: JACPAC, Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Prospects: Decent: 2 in 5 chance of winning.


Jill Schiller, 2nd District, encompassing Cincinnati’s eastern suburbs, challenging incumbent Republican Brad Wenstrup.
Know this: She credits Judaism’s “empowerment of strongly female leaders” as fueling her decision to run.
Endorsements: Obama.
Prospects: A long shot at 1 in 20.


Susan Wild, 7th District, encompassing the Lehigh Valley, seeking to replace Republican Pat Meehan.
Know this: Wild was drawn into Jewish activism by her son’s urging her to join Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown. She serves on the board of directors of the local Jewish federation.
Endorsements: Jewish Democratic Council of America, Obama, JACPAC, Democratic Jewish Outreach PA.
Prospects: Very good.

Marc Friedenberg, 12th District, encompassing State College, challenging incumbent Republican Tom Marino.
Know this: Friedenberg emphasizes health care reform and the opioid crisis.
Endorsements: Democratic Jewish Outreach PA.
Prospects: Nil.


Elaine Luria, 2nd District, encompassing coastal towns and the Norfolk U.S. Navy base, challenging incumbent Republican Scott Taylor.
Know this: Luria is a former Navy commander who organized a Passover seder on an aircraft carrier.
Endorsements: Obama, JACPAC.
Prospects: Not great: 2 in 9 chance of winning.


Kim Schrier, 8th District, stretching east and north from Seattle’s exurbs, seeking to replace retiring Republican incumbent Dave Reichert.
Know this: Schrier’s agenda is primarily about health care reform, She was also moved to run as a Jewish American after the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Endorsements: Obama, Jewish Democratic Council of America, J Street.
Prospects: A toss-up: The 538 blog gives Schrier a 4 in 9 chance.


Dan Kohl, 6th District, running north and west of Milwaukee and including suburbs of Madison, challenging Republican Glenn Grothman.
Know this: Kohl is a scion of the Kohl family, which established the retail chain and for a long period owned the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team, where Dan Kohl was an executive. His uncle is retired Sen. Herb Kohl, and Dan Kohl helped found the liberal Middle East policy group J Street.
Endorsements: J Street.
Prospects: Not great: 2 in 7 shot.

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