First Election Round Goes to Jews

While most Jewish politicians easily won Tuesday’s primary election, four out of six Jewish candidates in Los Angeles County Superior Court judge races survived the primaries, with two Jewish women competing this fall in a tough judge’s race.

California’s Jewish legislators who retained their seats Tuesday against token or zero opposition included Sen. Barbara Boxer, who had no Democratic opposition and now faces Republican challenger Bill Jones. Los Angeles County’s five Jewish members of Congress — Howard Berman (D-North Hollywood), Jane Harman (D-Venice). Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) — all won, although Sherman faces Republican attorney Robert Levy in November.

In the vacant Superior Court Office 69 judge’s race, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Judith Levey Meyer garnered 32.55 percent of Tuesday’s vote and runner-up and Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Donna Groman earned 29.09 percent of ballots cast. The two square off in November as neither took the majority needed (51 percent) of the vote.

In other Superior Court races, Jewish candidates either lost to or still are up against Latino opponents.

Deputy District Attorneys Daniel Feldstern (Superior Court Office 18) and Jeffrey Gootman (Superior Court Office 29) both came in third in their separate court races, with Feldstern getting 26.1 percent and Gootman 22.3 percent; the top vote-getters in both races respectively were Latino candidates Mildred Escobedo, a Superior Court referee, and attorney Gus Gomez.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Priver came in second with 38.2 percent, and in November faces administrative law judge John Gutierrez for the Superior Court Office 52 seat.

Superior Court referee Daniel Zeke Zeidler, a dependency referee at Edelman Children’s Court, came in first in the Superior Court Office 69 race with 28.08 percent against his November opponent, Deputy District Attorney David Lopez, who earned 21.5 percent.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, a Catholic, faces no fall election since he retained his seat with 59.27 percent of the vote. Jewish challenger Deputy District Attorney Denise Moehlman came in third with 9 percent.

In state races, Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) won his primary unopposed, as did Assembly incumbents Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) and Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), with Levine battling Republican schoolteacher Mark Isler this fall. Similarly, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) had no primary opposition and won.

In the 47th District’s open Assembly seat, including Jewish neighborhoods in Pico-Roberston, Westwood and Cheviot Hills, African American Democrats Karen Bass and Nate Holden square off in November, with political science professor Richard Groper coming in fourth with 10 percent of the vote.

Republican political consultant Arnold Steinberg said the Jewish community took little interest in Orange County’s onetime Republican congressman Bob Dornan and his late, underfunded attempt to unseat incumbent Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) in the 46th District; Rohrabacher has become more sympathetic to Arab perspectives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The Jewish community has to be more interested in some of these races," Steinberg said. "The Jewish community simply was not involved in the race. [Dornan] brings a lot of baggage into the race and, as such, there wasn’t any substantive press coverage of the foreign policy issues, instead a focus on personality."

Susan Pinkus, director of the Los Angeles Times exit poll, said of Tuesday’s California turnout of Jews, "For all voters, it was 7 percent Jewish; for the Democratic primary voters, it was 11 percent and 71 percent of them voted for Kerry, 18 percent for Edwards."

Another 4 percent voted for Kucinich, she noted.

On the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger-fueled Proposition 57 state bond initiative and Proposition 58 balanced budget initiative, "For 57 [Jews] voted for it, 59 percent to 41 percent. On 58, again, they voted for it, 69 percent to 31 percent," Pinkus said.

Proposition 55, the state school bond initiative, had 69 percent to 39 percent Jewish support, Pinkus said, while Jewish voters in a 47 percent to 53 percent margin opposed the state budget initiative Proposition 56, "they voted against it as everybody else did," she said. "They voted as did the rest of the electorate."