Jews score big in West Virginia race

Jews score big in West Virginia race

The 2010 election is over. Now comes the hard part: coming together as a nation.

That won’t be easy, given the high level of vitriolic attacks launched by both parties during this mid-term election, which ended Tuesday with historic gains for the Republicans in the House of Representatives, and the Democrats still clinging to control of the Senate.

Several governorships also changed hands Tuesday, including here in Pennsylvania. Look for those results to touch off a new wave of political warfare in the coming year as states redraw their congressional districts (the party that controls the governor’s mansion always has the upper hand).

Yes, it will be hard for voters and office holders alike to forget the negative attacks of this campaign season, which divided this country like few other times in its political history.

That’s why we prefer to use this space this week to highlight some hopeful signs, at least for Jews, that we saw Tuesday night as the returns came in from across the country:
• Republicans were humble in victory. We saw no posturing Tuesday — no claims to an electoral mandate from the voters. Instead, GOP leaders, from Presumptive Speaker John Boehner on down, coined the results as a “second chance” for their party, which they need to get right if they are to keep the voters’ trust. That might bode well for dialogue and compromise.

• Regionally, we were heartened by the victory of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin in that state’s race for the unexpired Senate term of the late Robert C. Byrd. As we have reported, Byrd was not a strong supporter of Israel. Manchin, who issued a position paper during the campaign calling Israel “our most steadfast and strongest ally in the Middle East,” and declaring, “we must ensure that Israel remains the bulwark of democracy in the Middle East and has the resources it needs to defend itself from terrorists and hostile neighbors,” will be an improvement. Further, since Manchin’s Republican opponent, John Raese, still hasn’t responded to our requests for his views on Israel, we can only assume that the Jews will find they have a new friend in the Senate come January.

• As we previously reported here, both candidates in the Pennsylvania Senate race — the winner, Pat Toomey, and the loser, Joe Sestak — are pro-Israel, their attack ads notwithstanding. Toomey does need to get over to the region more often (when we interviewed him earlier this year he said he had only been there once), but his heart is in the right place and once he learns his way around, and puts names to the faces of the major players, we’re sure he’s someone the Jewish community will be able to turn to.

• Perhaps most importantly, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) stands to be the new House majority in January. His support for Israel in that capacity cannot be underestimated.

The 2010 election is over; the healing must now begin. That won’t happen quickly or easily, but for Jewish voters, gains such as the ones just named will be a balm as we begin that difficult process.