It’s Trump

Donald Trump (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, creative common license
Donald Trump (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, creative common license

After a bitter race for the White House between two of the most unpopular candidates in recent times,  Republican Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States.

The New York businessman was called by the networks as the winner having captured Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes at 2:30 a.m., giving him 276 electoral votes — six more than needed to win the presidency.

Of the many shocking twists and turns to the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s victory may come as the largest of all. Trump took experts by surprise, winning almost all of the key swing states in the race including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. Almost all projections had Clinton winning the majority of these states.

Clinton had consistently led in the polls throughout the race, although sometimes within the polls’ margin of error. Polls heading into Tuesday showed her leading Trump by an average of three points, 45 percent to 42 percent.

Trump had stated repeatedly that the election is “rigged,” and during the third presidential debate said he might refuse to accept the outcome of the election. A campaign ad released Sunday drew criticism from some Jewish groups as trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The ad attacked the “political and economic machine of the world,” and showed images of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellin, billionaire and Clinton supporter George Soros and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, all of whom are Jews.

“There is no place in civil political discourse for the perpetuation of harmful and baseless stereotypes,” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote in a statement Monday.

Being an Orthodox Jew affects how I look at party platforms, and for me, conservative values are more in line with my own.

— Shelly Weinreb, Mount Washington resident

“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, wrote in a statement about the ad.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told CNN that he thought the ad was “something  of a German shepherd whistle” to the Jewish community.

“It clearly had sort of Elders of Zion kind of feel to it, international banking crisis — plot or conspiracy, rather — and then a number of Jews,” he said on “State of the Union.”

Clinton had held an 11-point lead over Trump in mid-October. Her lead widened after a leaked video from 2005 showed Trump making sexually predatory comments about women.

But her lead shrank in the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s announcement on Oct. 28 that he would reopen the investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

Also read, At JCC and Krieger Schechter,  Students Also Vote

As the potential for a Trump victory seemed ever more likely, Jewish Democratic voters in the Washington area began to worry at the notion of the businessman occupying the oval office.

Chris Madden, a 17-year-old volunteer for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D-Md.) Senate campaign said while watching the  results trickle in at a watch party in Silver Spring that he was “feeling on edge” about the outcome. “This is the first election that I’ve been of age to participate in and I’m worried about the direction of the country,” he said.

Hillary Clinton (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Outcome aside, Jewish voters outside polls expressed a sense of exhaustion and resignation.

On her way out of voting at the polling station at North Oaks Retirement Community, Pikesville native Cindy Kleiman, who supported Clinton, said, “I’m so glad it’s over.”

She noted: “The best part of the election were the ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketches.”

Others, however, expressed much more enthusiasm about the candidates and issues themselves.

Arik Shalom, 41, an African-American Jew who lives in Baltimore, said the most important issue to him this election cycle has been national security. He strongly believes Trump will make good on his promise to secure the borders and keep ISIS terrorists from invading the country.

“[Trump] is really saying what needs to be said and not standing on the side of political correctness,” Shalom said. “He’s saying what people really want to read and what people want to really have changed.”

Over at the Cross Country Elementary School, Mount Washington’s Shelly Weinreb also felt connected to the Orthodox community in her decision to vote for Trump.

[Trump] is really saying what needs to be said and not standing on the side of political correctness.

— Arik Shalom, Baltimore resident

“Being an Orthodox Jew affects how I look at party platforms, and for me, conservative values are more in line with my own,” she said.

Weinreb’s identity largely impacted her concerns for everything from the economy to national security “and of course, Israel,” she said.

“These are tremendous issues,” Weinreb said. “It’s a pivotal election as far as the direction the country is moving in.”

Maryland voted solidly for Clinton. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was elected the state’s next senator, succeeding Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) who will retire in January after five terms. U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-District 7), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-District 2) and John Sarbanes (D-District 3) won their reelection bids.

Chris Van Hollen (File photo)
Chris Van Hollen (File photo)

Van Hollen, who represents the state’s 8th congressional district, defeated Republican Kathy Szeliga, 55, the minority whip in the state Senate Tuesday night. When the race was called shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m., the 40 people who had showed up to his watch party by then cheered and campaign staff hugged to celebrate what was an expected victory.

“I want to thank you for uniting behind the common purpose that every Marylander and every American is treated with dignity and respect and has the opportunity to have a fair shake in the United States of America,” Van Hollen told supporters at the Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring. “That’s what brings this extended family in this room together.”

Van Hollen, 57, noted that “this election has been different than any other election because it’s not just a difference in policy and public platforms,” referring  to Trump.

“And I know that by the end of the night that we will make sure that across America that hope will triumph over fear in the USA,” he said.

Van Hollen’s election to the Senate means that he will “find himself in the center of leadership,” said Michele Swers, professor of American government at Georgetown University. Swers noted that Van Hollen served on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and helped the party raise money for candidates, a position he served at the request of then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“I think that he was looking to move up in the party leadership,” she said.

Swers also pointed to Van Hollen’s  experience as a ranking member of the Budget Committee while Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was the committee chair. Van Hollen’s ability to reach across the aisle is a strength, she thinks, but likely won’t change the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

“He was in the House and that didn’t get any more bipartisan,” she said.

Swers said Van Hollen has big shoes to fill in succeeding 30-year veteran Mikulski, but that he has a good chance of being re-elected in six years. She said that he could accomplish much in the area of campaign finance reform, an issue he is particularly passionate about.

“I think he could have a long legacy in the Senate,” she said.

Mathew Klickstein and Justin Silberman contributed to this report.

Election 2016 Coverage:

Pugh, Cohen Carry Baltimore Vote

Community Kibbitz: At the Polls

At JCC and Krieger Schechter, Students Also Vote

Trump Supporters at Goldberg’s Trouble Customers

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