By Ross Kaminsky
Jewish Republicans. They may become less rare if David Storobin has anything to say about it.
You remember Family Feud? Richard Dawson asks family member contestants a question that was also asked of 100 people and the contestants have to guess what the survey answers were.
So if you’ll allow me to play Richard Dawson for a moment, here’s the question for you, dear contestant: “One hundred people surveyed. Top answers on the board. Name an elected Jewish Republican.”
If you said, “This is a trick question; they don’t exist,” congratulations, you got the most popular answer, with 54 percent on my hypothetical survey. The second most common answer, at 23 percent, was Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, followed by “Is Joe Lieberman a Republican?” with 15 percent.
In other words, there is only one nationally known elected Republican Jew – Eric Cantor – and even he, despite being the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, isn’t well known as a Congressman outside of his home state of Virginia.
Jewish pundits on the right (a less rare breed than you might think) such as Norman Podhoretz and Robert Goldberg, have lamented the persistence of the Jewish tendency to vote Democratic. But it doesn’t actually do much to help turn the tide of stubborn Jewish fealty to the party of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. What would help, however, is for voters to have more Jewish Republican officeholders at any level to point to as role models and inspiration.
One such role model is David Storobin, a Jewish Republican who is running for the New York City Council, who last year briefly served as our State Senator until his seat was eliminated in redistricting. During his time in the Senate, he was the only Jewish Republican elected in all of New York City.
David Storobin’s story is that of a man chasing the American Dream, having been raised by a divorced mother, but through education and hard work, going on to start his own law firm at the age of 25: “Since I had only meager savings at this young age, I had to max out my all of my credit cards, the only time in my life when I did not pay them off in full,” he told me. “I started by working out of my friend’s office, then got a one-room office. Today, I have two real offices with full-time associates and paralegals working for me.”
Being smart and energetic – while better than the opposite – certainly doesn’t guarantee electoral success. But Storobin has a lot more going for him.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has endorsed his candidacy, as did Congressman Michael Grimm, Senator Marty Golden and many other elected officials, activists and Rabbis.
Storobin’s Council district substantially overlaps with his old Senate district, and in fact, includes its most Republican-leaning areas. While Storobin’s race against Lew Fidler was very close, in the parts that overlap with the Council district, he won about 70% of the vote.
Polls suggest that nationally Jewish support for Republicans was 30 percent in the previous elections, still a disappointing number but a substantial increase from just two years earlier and a move which, if maintained, could pose problems for Democrats in swing states and in communities with a large Jewish population.
Imagine if Jewish communities in New York City and elsewhere actually had well-spoken conservative Jews to vote for, during this age of frustration with an American president. Perhaps resistance to the Democrats’ Borg-like hold on the political souls of American Jews need not be futile after all.
David Storobin’s candidacy represents an opportunity, especially in a city and state with a large Jewish population, to show Jewish voters and potential Jewish candidates that Republican Jewish politicians do not only exist in the daydreams of pundits and the nightmares of liberals.
Maybe in a future Family Feud episode, at least a few people will be able to name one elected Jewish Republican in New York – David Storobin.