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Jewish GOP candidates grow in number

  |   Dec. 12, 2011 at 9:13 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A higher number of Jewish Republican congressional candidates in 2012 raises the possibility of a greater presence for the bloc on Capitol Hill, insiders said.

Right now, only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia is Jewish, but observers say this could change in the 2012 election cycle, particularly in the Senate where three Jewish Republicans are running in competitive 2012 races, Roll Call reported Monday.

Seeking to be the party nominee in competitive Senate races are former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, Adam Hasner in Florida and Josh Mandel in Ohio.

"We are blessed with many. The harvest is bountiful," said former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is Jewish. "There's a real possibility of [getting two or three Republican Jews elected to] the Senate. It's been a pretty exclusive club."

Coleman, who lost a 2008 recount battle in mid-2009 to Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was one of the last Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania left the GOP to become a Democrat. (Specter lost a re-election bid in 2010.)

Twenty-four Jewish Democrats are House members and 12 Jewish Democrats are in the Senate, Roll Call said.

Jewish Republican donors climbed to prominence and power during the last 10 years, working to build a national network of financial support for candidates, Roll Call said. Last week, nearly every Republican presidential hopeful spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition's presidential forum in Washington.

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