Election Day 2020 is finally upon us, and besides the presidential election, there are hundreds of races across the country with huge implications for local and national politics.
There are also several with higher stakes for the Jewish community, whether they involve key Jewish politicians or issues that American Jews are particularly concerned about.
President: Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
This race goes without explanation: It’s the main event, a clash of two drastically different world views with two very different sets of consequences for the Jewish community. Will Donald Trump continue to impose his right-wing will on almost every core issue that American Jews hold dear, from immigration to abortion to Israel policy? Will Joe Biden get a chance to implement his moderate liberalism and usher in what would likely be a quieter era of diplomacy?
We may not know for days or weeks. But we will likely know a few important things on Tuesday night — such as whether or not Trump decides to act on his stated desire to claim a victory before the count is complete, and how Jewish voting rights groups fared in their mission to make sure votes were counted.
Al Gross vs. Dan Sullivan, Alaska
Al Gross, a Jewish Independent who is being supported by Alaska Democrats, has mounted a serious challenge against incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan, who has been hurt by his ties to a project that would mine a beloved mineral-rich region of southern Alaska. In the last days of the campaign, Sullivan ran an ad that fell into anti-Semitic trope territory, depicting Gross holding a wad of cash in front of an image of Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is also Jewish, lurking in the background.
Jon Ossoff vs. David Perdue, Georgia
Jon Ossoff, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018, has been polling in a dead heat with incumbent Republican David Perdue. That was before clips of the 33-year-old Jewish former journalist lashing out against Perdue in their most recent debate — on several issues, including an ad Perdue’s campaign ran that appeared to elongate Ossoff’s nose — went viral.
Both of Gross and Ossoff’s races are crucial for the Democrats’ hopes of retaking the Senate.
Merav Ben-David vs. Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming
Ben-David, an Israeli-American scientist at the University of Wyoming running as a Democrat, is unlikely to win in her conservative state.
Matt Lieberman vs. several, Georgia
Matt Lieberman, son of Joe, is running as a Democrat for Georgia’s other Senate seat, but even members of his own party want him to drop out of the race, wary that he will take votes from the Democratic frontrunner, Raphael Warnock. (There are multiple Republican candidates running as well; the top two overall vote getters on Tuesday will advance to a runoff round.)
Lee Zeldin vs. Nancy Goroff, New York’s 1st District
Zeldin, the senior Jewish Republican congressman (of two in the House) faces a close challenge from Goroff, a chemistry professor who is also Jewish and has hammered Zeldin on his attitude towards the pandemic. An upset by Goroff would deprive Republicans of their go-to congressional frontman on Jewish issues.
Max Rose vs. Nicole Malliotakis, New York’s 11th District
The freshman congressman Rose is locked in a dead heat with a Republican challenger in one of New York’s most conservative districts. The Afghanistan veteran has been notably unafraid to work across the aisle on anti-Semitism, Israel legislation and other Jewish issues in his first term.
Elissa Slotkin vs. Paul Junge, Michigan’s 8th District
Slotkin is a poster child of the moderate Democrats with national security backgrounds (several of them Jewish) who helped lead the “blue wave” in 2018 that helped her party retake the House. The FiveThirtyEight election forecast site gives her a two-thirds chance of winning reelection in the swing state that narrowly went for Trump in 2016.
Elaine Luria vs. Scott Taylor, Virginia’s 2nd District
Luria is another member of the moderate Democratic group that includes Slotkin and Rose, but she has become much more vulnerable in her military-heavy district after voting to impeach Trump and participating in other Democratic legislation. FiveThirtyEight gives her only a one in three chance of retaining the seat.
Susan Wild vs. Lisa Scheller, Pennsylvania’s 7th District
This Jew vs. Jew race has seen the “which threat is more dangerous for the Jews, left-wing or right-wing anti-Semitism?” question come up in debates. Wild, a Democrat who flipped this seat in 2018, has a good chance of winning again.
Kathy Manning vs. Ted Budd, North Carolina’s 13th District
Manning, the first woman ever to chair the Jewish Federations of North America, is trying for a second time to flip a conservative district blue. She’s close in the polls, but FiveThirtyEight gives her incumbent opponent a 61% chance of hanging on.
Jill Schupp vs. Ann Wagner, Missouri’s 2nd District
Schupp, a Jewish Democratic member of the Missouri’s State Senate, is deadlocked with incumbent Ann Wagner, who only won in 2018 with 51% of the vote.
David Richter vs. Andrew Kim, New Jersey’s 3rd District
The Jewish businessman Richter, who has major Republican Jewish Coalition backing for his robust rejection of the Iran nuclear and other issues, has a shot at ousting the freshman Kim in purple southern New Jersey.
David Kustoff vs. Erika Stotts Pearson, Tennessee’s 8th District
The Republican Kustoff will be reelected in his red district and remain the GOP’s second crucial Jewish member of Congress (if Zeldin wins his tight race, or the most senior if he loses).
Marjorie Taylor Greene (unopposed), Georgia’s 14th District
Greene, whose Democratic challenger dropped out of the race in September, has made headlines throughout the campaign cycle as the first member of Congress to believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which experts say is rich in anti-Semitism.
Lois Frankel vs. Laura Loomer, Florida’s 21st District
Frankel, the Jewish moderate Democrat incumbent, is facing an upstart challenge from Laura Loomer, a self-described “Islamophobe” who has gotten banned from Twitter and ride-sharing apps for her controversial views. The race has made headlines for its clash of cultures, but Loomer doesn’t have much of a numerical chance.
Ilhan Omar vs. Lacy Johnson, Minnesota’s 5th District
Omar has earned the ire of some American Jews for being one of two current members of Congress to support the boycott Israel movement, and for invoking what some have called anti-Semitic tropes in her criticism of the AIPAC Israel lobby (she landed in hot water again this year for a mailer that named her opponent’s Jewish donors). She faced a respectable primary challenge from a pro-Israel progressive but emerged victorious and faces sure reelection in her very blue district.
Rashida Tlaib vs. David Dudenhoefer, Michigan’s 13th District
Tlaib, the other current House member who supports a boycott of Israel and a member, along with Omar, of the progressive “Squad,” is similarly expected to cruise to victory in her district after a closer primary win. She and Omar were blocked from entering Israel in 2019 over their BDS support.
Cori Bush vs. Anthony Rogers, Missouri’s 1st District
Bush, who has expressed support for BDS on her website, defeated a longtime pro-Israel Democrat in her August primary. She is now considered a shoo-in in her district and would become the third member of Congress to indicate support for BDS.
Adam Schiff vs. Eric Early, California’s 28th District
Schiff, one of the most prominent Jewish lawmakers in the country after leading impeachment proceedings against President Trump, will cruise to reelection. But his Jewish opponent here has been able to ruffle feathers along the way, by calling George Soros, the Holocaust survivor and liberal donor, a Nazi sympathizer. He also incorrectly accused Schiff of being related to Soros.
Jake Auchincloss vs. Julie Hall, Massachusetts’ 4th District
Auchincloss, a 32-year-old former Marine and former Republican (as pointed out by several of his Democratic rivals) with a detailed website section on Israel policy, won a highly contested Democratic primary for former Rep. Joe Kennedy’s seat (yes, of those Kennedys) that involved several other Jewish candidates. There isn’t solid polling for this district, but Massachusetts has not sent a Republican representative to Congress in decades.