What do I know, I’m just sitting on the West Coast and googling, but I did manage to come up with a few links on New York’s 9th Congressional District. More than any other district in the country in the last decade New York 9th has been trending conservative:
Weiner’s district, spanning mostly white neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, trended more Republican than any other district in the country from the 2000 to the 2008 presidential election. Al Gore carried the district in a landslide, winning 67 percent of the vote. But it gave John Kerry just 56 percent of the vote in 2004, a striking 11 point dip.
The district might well be 11% Russian. Russians voted Gore/Liberman in 2000, and switched Republican after 9/11. However, as Alina explained in the thread below, they are probably still voting for Weiner whom they believe to be something of a nice Jewish boy. In presidential elections:
The gain was largely attributable to voters’ strong support of George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies post-9/11, but four years later John McCain carried the same 44 percent of the vote as Bush, even as President Obama significantly outperformed Kerry across the country.
Russians everywhere were never smitten with Obama. Israelis are not that fond of him either. Russian Jews do not believe Obama to be a friend of Jewish people. Plus, there is something Soviet about him.
Weiner himself faced his toughest re-election in his career last year, winning 59 percent of the vote against an underfunded Republican opponent. For Weiner, that was a limp performance – he had always won more than 66 percent of the vote since he first ran for Congress in 1998.
Queens businessman Bob Turner who in 2010 ran for the United States Congress on the Republican ticket has the following to say about the demographics of the district:
“It is a very conservative district,” Turner observes. “The voter registration is 3-to-1 Democrat, but the district keeps changing its voting patterns. It has gone from mostly Italian, Irish, and Jewish to a more complex makeup. The Jewish vote is divided in a number of ways between the Russians and the newer Orthodox groups. Many of the more secular, traditional Jewish Democrats are now living in Westchester and Nassau counties. A lot of things have been in flux.”
Turner doesn’t give the exact ethnic breakdown, but it seems like the district is composed of working class white Catholics (a swing vote?) and Jews who trend conservative. The number of Russians in Weiner’s district will remain the same, but count on the “newer Orthodox group” to double in number from one election cycle to the next. OK, maybe not double, but they proselytize to other Jews and take “be fruitful and multiply” to heart. I don’t believe the Orthodox will look kindly upon (ho-hum!) his online exploits. Before Weinergate, the Congressman’s credentials with Jews are already a bit dicey. Consider:
Weiner has always been assertive about his Jewishness. In his own words, he’s spent “more time at melaveh malkahs [post-Shabbat gatherings], a lot more time at shul, at sisterhood breakfasts, and at bond breakfasts than probably just about anybody else.” He doesn’t belong to a synagogue or consider himself close to a single rabbi—except to say, consummate politician that he is, “all the shuls in my district are my home shuls.” Says Warren Hecht, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council: “He’s a Jewish official who hasn’t forgotten” his roots or his district.
So he’s a politician who likes to schmooze. Is he Jewish enough for the Orthodox, though? HOWEVER:
As a congressman, he has consistently pushed pro-Israel legislation, and Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), counts him among the “top 10 congressmen” in terms of Israel issues. In 2006, he supported legislation that would ban the Palestinian Authority delegation from the United Nations and urged its members to “start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags.” Last year, he announced his opposition to the administration’s decision to sell a fleet of F-15s to Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia has not behaved like an ally of the United States,” Weiner wrote in a letter to President Obama, criticizing the move. “Saudi Arabia has a history of financing terrorism, is a nation that teaches hate of Christians and Jews to their school children, and offered no help to the U.S. as gas prices surged during the spike in oil prices. Furthermore, this deal would destabilize the region and undermine the security of Israel, our one true ally in the region.”
He has consistently criticized President Obama for going “too far” in opposing natural growth in the West Bank. In addition, he is actively working to secure the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who he describes as “confined to a sentence that far exceeds the appropriate term for the crime he has committed.”
Recently, Weiner’s remarks on Israel raised eyebrows across the political spectrum. At a March 3 debate in New York about the Goldstone Report—prior to its author’s public mea culpa—featuring former Congressman Brian Baird from Washington state and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, Weiner repeatedly reiterated that there is “no Israeli occupation in the West Bank.” He also said there was no Israel Defense Force presence in the West Bank and that Israel’s eastern border was the Jordan River. These statements were covered in the Jewish press, as well as in liberal blogs, and as Gal Beckerman wrote in The Forward, “Weiner undermined his credibility completely by making statements that showed that he was either a) on the most extreme right of Israel’s political spectrum, or b) ignorant of basic facts about the conflict. Whatever the explanation, his lack of information on crucial and basic points made for much intense heckling.”
Wow! That’s pretty much as gutsy as representing his district can get. Then there is his marriage:
His wife, Huma Abedin, was born in Michigan to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father, and raised in Saudi Arabia. Her late father, an Islamic scholar, established an institute there that aimed to deepen religious tolerance, while her mother, who is a sociology professor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, helped create one of the first women’s colleges in the country.
What are her Zionist credentials, I wonder? His Jewish constituents weren’t impressed:
The July 2010 wedding was covered widely. The reports were gushing, accompanied by photos of the couple with the beautiful bride in a white Oscar de la Renta gown. Response in the Jewish community was tepid: “Christian President Marries Jewish Congressman to Moslem Political Aide on Shabbos,” read the headline on The Yeshiva World News after the Saturday nuptials.
The ZOA’s Klein is more direct: “People I’ve spoken to in his district said they wouldn’t support him because he intermarried.” In fact, before Weiner came to the ZOA dinner in December, Klein warned him that his marriage to a Muslim might elicit jeers from the crowd. Weiner told Klein that he could handle it, and in the end, the night went off without a hitch. Weiner says that “most people have congratulated me and chided me for how long it took me. I can’t say that never did anyone have something discordant to say, but it’s very rare. Her faith and my faith are things that are important to our identities and things that we talk about. Our faiths and our grounding in religious ideals have made us closer.”
As a Jewish woman married to a goy, I can testify that our disparate religious heritage didn’t bring us closer. On the other hand, it didn’t tear us apart. When I read Weiner’s explanation of his marriage, I don’t hear honesty, I hear multi-culti. At this point it’s fair to speculate that his marriage was a pure political calculation. Weiner managed to kill two birds with one stone: to wed a well-connected democratic operative and to establish himself with the multi-culti crowd. Makes a perfect sense for a man poised to run for mayor of New York. His ZOA standing won’t do in Manhattan. But a crazy Jew married to a Muslim who’s been in Vogue? They’d be the “it” couple of the year! Only now crazy Jew looks crazier then ever.
Another bit about Weiner:
Indeed, Weiner is filling what some onlookers say is a gaping hole in the Democratic Party. Republicans have their fair share of talking heads and headline-grabbing gurus, ranging from personalities such as Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin, but few Democrats today have the kind of pizzazz that holds audiences in rapt attention. “He’s very telegenic and he gives great sound bites,” says one ABC News producer. “Everyone wants him on their show.”
I suppose if a man wants to toughen up his son, and doesn’t wish to name him Sue, he should at least give him Weiner as a last name. Anyhow, somebody should explain to babushkas what Weiner’s last name means in American vernacular and nominate somebody with stellar Zionist/anti–terrorist credentials like Peter King (NY-3) who can also reassure said babushkas that they are not going to be thrown to the wolves.