The Backward Eighteen
Candidates lacking on Israel and Jewish issues.
The National Jewish Democratic Council Political Action Committee
unveiled its Backwards eighteen, a list of the eighteen worst members of Congress on issues of importance to the American Jewish community who are up for re-election this November.
These eighteen members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representative hold positions and have legislative records in direct contrast to the mainstream of the Jewish community.
The members of the Backwards Eighteen are:
- Sen. George Allen (Virginia)
- Sen. Conrad Burns (Montana)
- Rep. Steve Chabot (Ohio-1)
- Rep. Barbara Cubin (Wyoming)
- Sen. Mike DeWine (Ohio)
- Rep. Mike Ferguson (New Jersey-7)
- Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania-9)
- Rep. Scott Garrett (New Jersey-5)
- Rep. J. D. Hayworth (Arizona-5)
- Rep. John Hostettler (Indiana-8)
- Rep. Randy Kuhl (New York-29)
- Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado-4)
- Rep. Ron Paul (Texas-14)
- Sen. Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania)
- Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (Florida-22)
- Rep. Don Sherwood (Pennsylvania-10)
- Sen. Jim Talent (Missouri)
- Rep. Curt Weldon (Pennsylvania-7)
According to Ira Forman, "The Backwards 18 are the worst of the worst for the Jewish community in the 109th Congress. Their records reflect a greater commitment to the values of the far right rather than the more mainstream views of our community. NJDC PAC is deeply concerned about these the positions and believes that the Jewish community deserves better," said NJDC PAC in a statement today. "The Jewish community is being heavily targeted this November by candidates who claim their allegiance to Jewish causes. Jewish voters would be wise to steer clear of the Backwards 18, as virtually every one of them opposes a strong separation of Church and State, a woman's right to choose, and federally-funded stem-cell research. A few oppose the U.S.-Israel relationship, while others have chosen U.S. business interests over the safety and security of the United States, Israel, and our western allies. Their priorities are out of touch with the Jewish community. The Backwards 18 need to be sent back home."
18 is perhaps the most meaningful number in Judaism. Matching up the numbers to Hebrew letters in the proper fashion of
gematriya, assigning numeric values to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the number 18 forms the word
Chai, or life in English. The Hebrew letter Chet amounts to 8, and
Yud to 10. If one reverses the two letters, the numbers still total 18 but are now pronounced
Considerations for inclusion in the Backwards eighteen include, but are not limited to:
- Votes on key legislative priorities of the Jewish community as determined by Jewish advocacy organizations including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), United Jewish Communities (UJC), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and others;
- Legislative scores/ratings with the Christian Coalition, National Right to Life Committee, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and various other interest advocacy organizations;
- Official and public statements, including statements on official and campaign websites, during legislative debate, and in press releases;
- News reports; and
- The size of the Jewish community in a given state or district.
The following are brief descriptions of the voting records and positions of the Backwards 18:
Senator George Allen (VA): A former governor of Virginia now serving in his 1st term in the Senate, George Allen has been a constant and vocal supporter of the religious right. Allen is anti-choice and opposes stem cell research. He has voted with the right-wing National Right to Life Committee 100 percent of the time on key abortion legislation since 2002 and holds a near 100 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition during his first five years in office. Senator Allen has appeared with the confederate flag in previous campaign ads, mocked single mothers receiving social welfare, and recently used the racist term "macaca" to describe a staff member of his opponent's campaign. Clearly, tolerance is not Allen's forte.
Senator Conrad Burns (MT): Senator Burns is completing his 3rd term in office by having to fend off his ties to Jack Abramoff. The convicted lobbyist raised over $135,000 in campaign contributions for Burns between 2001 and 2004. Senator Burns opposes stem-cell research and holds a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee dating back to 1997. Since 1999, Senator Burns has voted with the Christian Coalition more than 90 percent of the time. He is also widely known as one of the most insensitive members of the Senate, calling a contractor doing work on his home as a "nice little Guatemalan man" and referring to Arab-Americans as "rag heads" and terrorists who "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night."
U.S. Representative Steve Chabot (OH-1): Representative Chabot, currently in his 6th term in the House, is anti-choice and an outspoken supporter of the radical right. Chabot has a 97 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee since 1997. He has also earned a near 100 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition since 2000. In the 109th Congress, Representative Chabot opposed legislation which would have permitted the federal government to conduct stem-cell research and has voted for legislation permitting employers to discriminate in their hiring practices based on religion. In Ohio, Representative Chabot fought to expand state science curriculums to include "Intelligent Design."
U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin (WY): Completing her 6th term in office, Representative Cubin is one of the most conservative members in the House of Representatives. The radical Christian Coalition gave her a 100 percent voting record in 2004 and 2002, and a 93 percent in 2000. Representative Cubin is anti-choice, and since 1999, has posted a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee, a score which is clearly inconsistent with the views of the Jewish community. Representative Cubin has consistently voted against a strong separation of Church and State, including supporting prayer in public school. She is a loud and consistent voice for conservative causes in the House of Representatives.
Senator Mike DeWine (OH): A senator who has carried the water of the radical right, Senator Mike DeWine boasted a 100 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition in 2004 and a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee dating all the way back to 1997. As he proudly notes on his website, Senator DeWine opposes embryonic stem-cell research and suggests that such research is killing in the "name of science." Senator DeWine has also refused - on three separate occasions - to support legislation closing a terrorist loophole in U.S. law which has permitted the foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-owned companies to do business with the terrorist nation Iran. He has supported the nominations of conservative judges who have been accused of inserting their personal ideology into their interpretation of the law, including Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
U.S. Representative Mike Ferguson (NJ-7): Representative Mike Ferguson, currently serving in his 3rd term, is a voice for the extreme right. Despite representing a moderate district, he has voted against every single issue involving the separation of Church and State on which NJDC has spoken out against and posted a 100 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition on its most recent legislative scorecard. Representative Ferguson has a lifetime voting record of 94 percent with the National Right to Life Committee and supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He opposes stem-cell research and supports permitting religious organizations to employ discriminatory practices when making hiring decisions.
U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8): Although only a freshman in the 109th Congress, Mike Fitzpatrick has left his mark as an unabashed right-wing conservative. In his first two years in office, Fitzpatrick opposed an amendment which would have blocked religious organizations from discriminating in their hiring practices based on religion. He also refused to vote for a House amendment condemning the proselytizing of religion in the military academies. Fitzpatrick posted a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee and voted to uphold President Bush's veto of federally-funded embryonic stem-cell research. Fitzpatrick's
commitment to conservative causes sets him apart from many in his class.
U.S. Representative Scott Garrett (NJ-5): 2nd term Representative Scott Garrett is as conservative as they come - despite representing a very moderate Congressional district. A vocal opponent of emergency aid to Hurricane Katrina victims and the renewal of the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, Representative Garrett holds views in direct contrast with the Jewish community. Representative Garrett has encouraged New Jersey schools to teach "Intelligent Design" and proudly boasts a 100 percent voting record with the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee. Representative Garrett has voted to allow religious groups receiving federal funds to employ discriminatory hiring practices based on religion. He also voted against a measure condemning coercive religious proselytizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
U.S. Representative J.D. Hayworth (AZ-5): Reportedly a close friend of Jack Abramoff, Representative Hayworth is a self-proclaimed conservative leader in Congress and an outspoken opponent of immigration reform. He has garnered a great deal of attention as of late in Arizona's Jewish community because of his refusal to distance himself from his previous praises of Henry Ford and his explicitly anti-Semitic theory of "Americanization." Hayworth refused to back down even after the main Phoenix Jewish newspaper called on him to apologize. Representative Hayworth has a lifetime 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. Since 2000, he has voted with the Christian Coalition nearly 95 percent, including a 100 percent scorecard in 2001-2002.
U.S. Representative John Hostettler (IN-8): When it comes to being most out of line with the Jewish community, 6th term John Hostettler tops the chart. Since 1998, Representative Hostettler has regularly voted against foreign aid to Israel. Moreover, Hostettler is a leader of efforts to undermine the separation of Church and State. He sponsored a bill to prevent the Department of Justice from paying for the court-ordered removal of a Ten Commandments statue from an Alabama courthouse and has led the fight to keep the House from condemning coercive religious proselytizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy, using a House floor speech to accuse his opponents of "denigrating and demonizing Christians." Representative Hostettler has a 98% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition, and a record of being more concerned about a perceived
"long war on Christianity" than the very real dangers facing Israel.
U.S. Representative Randy Kuhl (NY-29): Even though freshman Representative Randy Kuhl has only been in Congress a short time, he's already assembled quite a record of falling in line with the Republican Leadership and religious right. Throughout his first term in Congress, Representative Kuhl has continually voted to undermine the reproductive freedom of American women with a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. He has also voted against federal funding for stem-cell research and in favor of putting the government in charge of Terri Schiavo's medical condition. Representative Kuhl even voted against a resolution condemning reports of religious discrimination at the U.S. Air Force Academy. A true rubber stamp indeed.
U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4): Representative Musgrave's first two terms in office are embodied in a 2006 speech she gave before the Family Research Council declaring, "I don't think there's anything more important than the marriage issue." She has also claimed that there is a "cultural war" going on in the U.S. and same-sex marriage is the reason. Representative Musgrave has a zero (0) percent voting record with pro-choice groups and opposes federally-funded stem-cell research. She is a constant voice for President Bush in the House of Representatives, and has a 100 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition. Representative Musgrave has refused to condemn religious proselytizing in U.S. military academies.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul (TX-14): Even more shocking than his extreme views on domestic policy is Representative Paul's ardent and outspoken opposition to Israel. As perhaps Congress' most anti-Israel member, Representative Paul consistently opposes foreign aid to Israel, regularly votes against pro-Israel resolutions and legislation, and has repeatedly accused Israel of having a dangerous influence on U.S. foreign policy. On the House floor, Representative Paul has accused Israel of expansionism and the intent to intimidate neighbors and contended that the U.S. is "forced, by domestic politics here at home, to support Israel at all costs." Representative Paul has a 73 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee since 1999 and has voted to permit religious organizations receiving federal funds to discriminate in their hiring practices.
Senator Rick Santorum (PA): Pennsylvania's junior Senator has a reputation as one of the Christian right's staunchest allies in Congress. From his assertion that states should be able to ban contraception to his outspoken support of teaching "Intelligent Design" in schools, Senator Santorum is certain to take the radical right's side on nearly every issue. Senator Santorum supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe
v. Wade and opposes federally-funded stem cell research. His opposition to gay rights has showed in virulently insensitive comments. Senator Santorum has opposed legislation to close the terrorist loophole which permits foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-owned companies to do business with Iran. He is the extreme of the extreme in the U.S. Senate.
Representative E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (FL-22): As a 13-term Congressman representing portions of one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States, Representative Shaw's voting record should be that of a moderate. However, with a 94 percent Christian Coalition voting record in 2002 and an 84 percent voting record with the radical right organization in 2004, Representative Shaw is anything but moderate. Since 1999, he has come down on the anti-choice side of the National Right to Life Committee 70 percent of the time and has voted numerous times to permit religious organizations who receive federal funds to discriminate in their hiring practices. Representative Shaw also opposed a resolution in the House of Representatives which condemned the proselytization of religion in the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2005. A moderate Representative Shaw is not.
U.S. Representative Don Sherwood (PA-10): The proud owner of a higher than 92 percent voting record with the Christian Coalition since 2000, this 4th term Congressman is a reliable vote for right-wing causes. Representative Sherwood has consistently supported legislation that tears down the Constitutionally-established separation of Church and State in the U.S. He has stood with President Bush in opposition to stem-cell research and even voted to uphold Bush's veto of a bill which would have reduced federal limitations on stem cell research. Representative Sherwood holds strong anti-choice views, voting with the National Right to Life Committee 100 percent of the time since 1999.
Senator Jim Talent (MO): A career politician, Senator Talent had a very conservative record even before his narrow victory in a 2002 special election in which he accused his opponent of "undermining national security." Senator Talent won thanks in part to his close ties to President Bush, and during his time in the Senate, he's kept up that tradition. Senator Talent has voted against a critical stem-cell research bill which President Bush later vetoed. After flip-flopping on the issue, Senator Talent has taken a strong stance against a statewide ballot initiative set for this November that would allow Missouri to fund its own stem-cell research program. Senator Talent holds a lifetime 100 percent voting record with both the Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life Committee.
U.S. Representative Curt Weldon (PA-7): A National Journal cover story called Representative Weldon "The Troublemaker? because of his erratic behavior and policy views. During his 10 terms in the House of Representatives, Representative Weldon has established an extremely conservative record on reproductive rights and Church-State issues and has
an inconsistent record on stem-cell research. Representative Weldon has voted with the National Right to Life Committee 94 percent of the time since 1999. In the 109th Congress, he voted in support of government intervention in the Terri Schiavo case and in support of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Representative Weldon's voting record is simply out of line with his moderate, suburban district.