The Jewish women who won elections in the US midterms

The Jewish women who won elections in the US midterms

From Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving woman in the Senate, to former CIA analyst Elissa Slotkin, Democrats elected 11 Jewish women, nine in the House and two in the Senate

From left to right, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dianne Feinstein, Elissa Slotkin, Elaine Luria and Jacky Rosen. (JTA Collage; Wasserman Schultz photo: DNC via Flickr; Feinstein photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images; Slotkin photo: Elissa Slotkin for Congress; Luria photo: Elaine Luria Campaign; Rosen photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
From left to right, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dianne Feinstein, Elissa Slotkin, Elaine Luria and Jacky Rosen. (JTA Collage; Wasserman Schultz photo: DNC via Flickr; Feinstein photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images; Slotkin photo: Elissa Slotkin for Congress; Luria photo: Elaine Luria Campaign; Rosen photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

JTA — Tuesday night’s midterm elections were hailed as a victory for gender parity, as an unprecedented number of women won bids to serve in Congress. More than 100 women were elected to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate, according to final vote tallies and projections.

It’s a group that includes 11 Jewish women — nine in the House and two in the Senate races. The winners are all Democrats — several female Jewish Republicans were unsuccessful in their bids for office.

Here’s a rundown of the winners:

The newcomers:

Jacky Rosen (Senate)

Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., speaks at a Democratic election night party after wining beating Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Rosen, 61, a one-term congresswoman from Nevada, will move to the Senate after defeating Republican incumbent Dean Heller in a toss-up race. She launched her political career in 2016 with a victory in her state’s 3rd Congressional District. Her prior political experience was minimal — if you don’t count being president of a synagogue, Congregation Ner Tamid in suburban Henderson. Rosen previously worked as a consultant and software designer. Her Senate campaign centered on education and the environment, as well as opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. Democrats tried hard to flip the state — both former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden campaigned on Rosen’s behalf.

Elissa Slotkin (House)

Elissa Slotkin, Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, speaks at an election night watch party in Clarkston, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Slotkin is challenging Republican incumbent Mike Bishop. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Slotkin’s background is in defense and intelligence. Slotkin, who beat Republican incumbent Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, is a former CIA analyst and served in various defense capacities in the Bush and Obama administrations, including as acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Slotkin, 42, lives on her family farm in rural Michigan. She is passionate about health care and says she was motivated to run for office by seeing the high costs her mother faced as she battled and ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer.

Susan Wild (House)

Susan Wild, Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, delivers a speech after defeating her opponent Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. Wild faced Republican Marty Nothstein for the seat held by Charlie Dent, who retired. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

Wild, 60, left a career in law to enter politics. She defeated Republican Marty Nothstein in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District to replace another Republican, Pat Meehan, who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. This was her first political campaign, and she ran on a platform that includes improving health care and protecting organized labor. Wild’s involvement with Jewish life includes serving on the board of directors for her local Jewish federation.

Elaine Luria (House)

Elaine Luria, running for Congress, speaking at a Democratic committee meeting in Norfolk, February 3, 2018. (Ron Kampeas/JTA)

Luria overcame challenging odds to edge Republican incumbent Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. Luria, 43, is a former U.S. Navy commander who finds ways to connect to the ocean in quite a different way — by owning and running a mermaid-theme shop. Her campaign platform included protecting Medicare and Social Security, increasing funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs and combating sea level rise and flooding.

Kim Schrier (House)

Congressional candidate Kim Schrier addresses the crowd at an election night party for Democrats Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Bellevue, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Schrier is a physician who made her campaign in Washington state’s 8th Congressional District primarily about health care reform. She has said that as a Jew she was motivated to enter politics following last year’s neo-Nazi and white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Schrier was one of several Jewish candidates targeted with Republican ads that showed her clutching cash — many saw the ads as playing on anti-Semitic tropes. In the end, she beat Republican Dino Rossi to replace retiring incumbent Dave Reichert.

The veterans:

Dianne Feinstein (Senate)

US Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks at an election night event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

At 85, Feinstein is the oldest sitting US senator and the longest-serving woman. The California lawmaker is also the top Democrat on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and is a leading progressive on many issues. She led the Democratic effort to dig into the record of Brett Kavanaugh after he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Feinstein started her political career in San Francisco, becoming president of the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1969. In 1978, she became the city’s mayor following the assassination of George Moscone (Jewish gay rights activist Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s city supervisor, was killed by the same gunman). Her parents are both of Jewish ancestry, but her mother was raised Christian; Feinstein chose Judaism as her faith at age 20. On Tuesday, she beat fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon (California’s election system allows the top two candidates to run against each other, regardless of party), with 54.3 percent of the vote.

Susan Davis (House)

Susan Davis (courtesy)

Davis, 74, won re-election with her victory over Republican Mortan Murtaugh. She has been serving California’s 53rd Congressional District since 2001 and is the top Democrat on the higher education subcommittee. She is passionate about the topic of education, having served as president of the San Diego school board early in her political career. Another of her core issues is health care access, and she has introduced legislation to allow women to visit their ob/gyns without a primary doctor referral. Her grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. After college, Davis lived on an Israeli kibbutz and worked with at-risk youth.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (House)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., gestures as she speaks against the dangers of 3D-printed guns, along with Fred Guttenberg, rear, during a news conference at the Sunrise Police Department, August 16, 2018, in Sunrise, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Wasserman Schultz, 52, will continue to represent South Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. Wasserman Schultz, a member of the House since 2005, has experienced a rough two years. Once a rising Democratic star, she served as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, but resigned after a hack found that she and others had favored 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who caucuses with Democrats. But she’s still doing fine in her district, receiving 58.4 percent of the vote and beating her Republican opponent Joe Kaufman by 22 percent. Wasserman Schultz became involved in politics through the now-defunct National Jewish Democratic Council. She also was one of the driving forces behind establishing Jewish American Heritage Month, introducing the legislation in 2005 with the late Arlen Specter.

Jan Schakowsky (House) 

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference about the tax cut on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Schakowsky easily retained her seat in Illinois against Republican John Ellison, receiving 73 percent of the vote in the state’s 9th Congressional District. Schakowsky, 74, has been representing the district since 1999 and is among the most progressive members of Congress. A major advocate for women’s rights, she has fought for issues such as combating sex trafficking, reducing maternal death and fighting health care costs that put a higher burden on women. Schakowsky is close to the liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street and in 2015 wrote in the Huffington Post about her decision to boycott a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of Congress.

Nita Lowey (House) 

Democrat Senator for New York Nita Lowey speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2018. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Lowey, 81, will continue to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District. A House member since 1989, she is the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and on its foreign operations subcommittee. Though Lowey was a top contender to take Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat after the former first lady was nominated to be secretary of state, Lowey said she did not want to give up her role on the Appropriations Committee. She is a strong supporter of Israel and was one of fewer than 20 House Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

Suzanne Bonamici (House) 

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici receives a hug from her mother Marie Woodcock Smith after winning the special election for Oregon’s 1st Congressional District against Republican Rob Cornilles Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Among the lawmakers on this list, Bonamici’s entry into politics is relatively recent. First elected to Congress in 2012, she represents Oregon’s 1st Congressional District. She is passionate about education and the environment, and is the ranking member on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s environment subcommittee. Bonamici, 63, was raised Episcopalian and Unitarian, but now practices Judaism with her Jewish husband, Michael Simon, a federal judge.

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