Column: Republicans ‘Christian’ Down Jews in Election Campaigns

And Doug Mastriano wants to be my Seinfeld-like latex salesman…er, my governor.

So one of his senior advisors, Jenna Ellis, warned Jewish Pennsylvanians that Democratic rival Joshua Shapiro is “at best…drum roll, please…A SECULAR JEW!!!! in the same way Joe Biden is a secular Catholic.”

In the midst of a tight congressional race in Rockland County in New York state, a Republican congressional hopeful was condemned by his Democratic opponent for his ties to county Republicans after they posted on their Facebook page that Hasidic Jews were “plotting a takeover” and threatening “our way of life.”

Both episodes occurred during the same timeframe as Donald J. Trump urged American Jews “to get their act together” and his pal Kanye West announced that he was at “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” whatever that means. Republicans have injected possible antisemitism into a number of election campaigns from the New York suburbs to Houston.

Perhaps Jenna Ellis learned from her law school classes what it means to be Jewish since she herself is not Jewish, for she has declared that “Josh Shapiro is at best a secular Jew in the same way Joe Biden is a secular Catholic. Doug Mastriano is for wholesome family values and freedom.”

She tweeted such thoughts on Oct. 21 in her role as a senior advisor to Mastriano, who is already headed for the political slaughterhouse on Nov. 8. It was the Mastriano campaign’s third stab at injecting antisemitism to assail Shapiro, the Democrat who is serving his second term as attorney-general. Mastriano has also sought antisemitic votes on a bigoted website and branded as elitist a Jewish day school attended by Shapiro’s children.

Ellis not only patronizes Jews but neglected to do her homework about Shapiro. The New York Times reports: “Shapiro…is an observant Jew whose faith is a central part of his public identity. He keeps kosher, prioritizes Sabbath dinner with his family and is a Jewish day school alum.”

As a state senator, Mastriano is based in Chambersburg just about halfway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in south-central Pennsylvania, a state which is long known as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama (as in Chambersburg) in between.

A Republican business owner who seeks election to the state Senate in neighboring Ohio mistakes the “Jew you down” term as a testament to Jewish frugality.

Michele Reynolds’s take on this term was brought to public attention by a reporter two weeks ago revealing that she self-published a book for business owners in 2014 in which she wrote, “I learned from other cultures on how they spend their money. Have you ever heard the term ‘Jew you down’? This culture has a reputation for not wasting resources.”

Traditionally, “Jew them down” means to bargain for a lower price, and who can do it better than these cheap people?

That’s not what she meant, her campaign insisted to the Columbus Dispatch. She merely intended to spotlight “what she learned from the wisdom of the Jewish community and how they are reputable for building successful businesses with a foundation of solid money principles.”

The next day, reports the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Reynolds tweeted, “While it was never my intent to be hurtful or disrespectful when I wrote the book in 2014, I humbly apologize to the Jewish community and anyone offended by the expression. I won’t reference this phrase again, and if the book is ever republished, I’ll make sure it is removed.”

Reynolds added a line that compounded the confusion: “I realize there are better ways to express my respect for my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.”

Respect? First I ever heard that “Jew you down” is an expression of respect.

In Houston, a Christian candidate did not seem to show respect for Jews and other Christians. Running against a Jewish candidate to retain his state post as a railroad commissioner, Wayne Christian once again touted his religious orientation last week.

“Just remember to vote for the only Christian, by name, on the ballot for railroad commissioner,” Christian proclaimed when addressing listeners of KPRC, a Houston-area TV station.

Jewish Democrat Luke Warford, who is challenging Christian in the Nov. 8 election, tweeted, “Incumbent Wayne Christian is too focused on spouting lazy, hateful nonsense to actually do his job.”

Christian – the incumbent commissioner, not the religion – has employed the phrase since he ran for state representative in 1996, and Christian spokesperson Travis McCormick (the candidate’s, not the religion’s, spokesperson) said, “We definitely would not have said it if we realized our opponent was Jewish,” according to JTA and The Texas Tribune.

McCormick explained that the slogan was nothing more than a joke to help voters remember Christian’s name, which he continued to use in 2016 for membership on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, coal and uranium mining and more, which excludes state railroads. The commission had no authority or jurisdiction over railroads since 2005, according to the Tribune.

Christian used the slogan in 2016 against his then-opponent, state Rep. Garry Gates. Does this mean that Gates, who attends a Christian church, is not a Christian?

Obviously, the slogan is not only offensive to Jews but to his fellow Christians.

Hasidic Jews in Rockland County, 25 miles northwest of New York City, were the focus of a Facebook page posted by the Rockland County GOP which posted that Hasidic Jews were “plotting a takeover” and threatening “our way of life,” The New York Daily News reports.

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney condemned his Republican challenger, Assemblyman Michael Lawler, for his connection to the county GOP.

Hasidic Jews there have taken actions which have angered their neighbors, but the GOP’s post exaggerates the conflict.

I am aware that two Democrats issued fact-free remarks against Israel recently. They are two of the usual suspects, Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens. I hope to review that in a future commentary.

Oh, yes, Rebecca Mastriano put in a good word for her husband during a campaign stop last Saturday. An Israeli journalist asked the candidate to explain his past implications of antisemitism against Shapiro, according to JTA.

While the state senator did not respond, his wife interjected, “As a family, we so much love Israel. In fact I’m going to say we probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews do.”

Does this means that Mastriano wins the sudden Israel lovefest? And that excuses all that he and Ellis said of Shapiro’s Jewish loyalty?

Rebecca M. sounds as if she is selling latex products.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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