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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023


NextImg:Kevin McCarthy courts upstate New York Orthodox Jews in bid to save House majority

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has made at least three pilgrimages to upstate New York recently to confer with Orthodox Jewish leaders who head voting blocs critical to swing-district Republicans.

The trips come as McCarthy eyes a path to saving his razor-thin five seat House majority — much of which he owes to a red wave that hit New York, even while skipping the rest of the country.

“We have a lot in common, when you think about it,” McCarthy, 58 and a devout Baptist, said of his rapport with leading rabbis. “The more they look at the policies Republicans have with freedom, and family, and freedom of religion I think it’s making a difference, especially in upstate.“

Days before the 2022 midterm elections, McCarthy traveled to the Hasidic village of New Square in Rockland County to confer with Rabbi David Twersky.

The 82-year-old rabbi was backing Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney and McCarthy showed up to plead for an 11th-hour switch.

The mission failed, but McCarthy vowed he’d be back. Maloney was bested anyway by GOP candidate Mike Lawler.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy is courting Jewish voters.
Courtesy of Rabbi Moshe Margaretten

Speaker McCarthy is looking to hold onto a slim five-seat majority in the House.
Speaker McCarthy is looking to hold onto a slim five-seat majority in the House.
Getty Images
Upstate Rep. Mike Lawler only won his race in 2022 by a few thousand votes.
Upstate Rep. Mike Lawler only won his race in 2022 by a few thousand votes.
AP

In March he returned and met with Twersky again — this time with Lawler by his side. In July, McCarthy sent a personal letter to mark the wedding of Twersky’s granddaughter and laid on the schmaltz.

“Your guidance and wisdom have undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping your granddaughter’s life and guiding her to this moment,” the speaker wrote.

McCarthy also visited Hasidic Jews in Monticello in Sullivan County at a fundraiser for Rep. Marc Molinaro. He was hosted by the nonprofit Tzedek Association and its politically influential leader, Rabbi Moshe Margaretten.

“He was extremely kind and he was very positive and we know the speaker is a friend of the Jewish community. For many years has has supported our values and it was a great honor for us to meet him,” Margaretten said.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy meeting with Rabbi Moshe Margaretten in Monticello New York.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy meeting with Rabbi Moshe Margaretten in Monticello New York.
Courtesy of Rabbi Moshe Margaretten
Orthodox Jews will be a critical voting bloc in the 2024 elections in New York.
Orthodox Jews will be a critical voting bloc in the 2024 elections in New York.
Getty Images

Secular Jews are one of the most reliably Democratic voting blocs in the country, but the rapidly-growing Hasidic population leans conservative. Both Lawler and Molinaro each squeaked by Democratic opponents in 2022 by a few thousand votes.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has also been angling for religious Jews. In June he held a meeting in the upstate Satmar Jewish enclave of Kiryas Joel, with spiritual leader Aaron Teitelbaum.

McCarthy said he was confident the Orthodox community would come through for the GOP in 2024.

“Hakeem can run for them but what is he going to do but apologize for his other members for their antiSemitism?” McCarthy said, referring to liberal Dems like Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was ousted from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over past remarks about Jews. “What do you do when they just attack the Jewish faith and the comments they make? It’s really appalling.”