On Tuesday night, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) hosted a cocktail reception at the Capital Grille in Washington, DC to celebrate the upcoming Republican U.S. Senate majority. Notable attendants were expected to be Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and politicians such as U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, John McCain, of Arizona, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
The GOP won back control of the Senate in last November's midterm elections. Republican Jewish donors and activists say they are now redoubling efforts to promote pro-Israel policies in collaboration with similarly aligned groups such as evangelical Christian organizations, including offers to arrange trips to Israel for prospective 2016 presidential candidates.
The RJC “has a well-developed strategy which was executed during former Majority Leader Cantor’s tenure and will continue with the new leadership team in the House and new Senate majority, thus ensuring strong, virtually unanimous Republican support for Israel at this dangerous time,” Florida mall developer Mel Sembler, who contributes to the RJC and sits on its board of directors, told Politico.
“Every candidate is going to want to appear before the RJC and to win support among different people within the RJC because they understand the depth of contributions that individuals in the RJC can and will make,” said president George W. Bush's former White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, who is also on RJC's board. Fleischer said he expects that RJC’s membership “will have feet in all the different camps, and then, once we know who the nominee is, we’ll unify like we always do and it will be a powerful unity.”
Several major Republican Jewish donors are beginning to show support for former Florida governor Jeb Bush as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
“It’s very important that whoever emerges to be the Republican Party nominee for 2016 is someone who recognizes the consequences of America being weak and inconsistent with our foreign policy,” said U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who is replacing Eric Cantor as the only Republican Jew in the House of Representatives. Tuesday’s reception will also celebrate Zeldin’s swearing-in.
Meanwhile, Jewish representation in the 114th U.S. Congress has actually dropped. Among the 535 combined members of the House and Senate, there are 28 Jews, five fewer than there were in the 113th Congress.
But Jewish representation in Congress is still relatively high when compared to the percentage of Jews in the overall American population. Jews make up 5 percent of Congress and 2 percent of the total adult population in the U.S.