Repeated surveys have found that Jewish voters — the majority of whom identify as Democrats by party and liberal or moderate by philosophy — prioritize domestic issues ahead of Israel when they cast their ballots.
That was reflected in remarks delivered by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock on Oct. 3 to an event in Dunwoody hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon of Atlanta, and Jewish Democratic Women for Action.
Warnock, who remains the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, preached on such issues as defending democracy and voting rights, protecting abortion rights, expanding health care access and affordability, and investing in infrastructure.
Warnock was introduced by Michael Rosenzweig, an Atlantan and the JDCA’s vice chair for management and operations, as “a good and staunch friend of the Jewish community” and “unyielding and unwavering” in his support of Israel’s right to self-defense.”
The senator himself did not mention Israel until he was asked in a post-event gaggle with reporters about his omission of a subject that usually receives at least passing attention when candidates appeal to Jewish groups for support.
“My commitment to Israel, its right to exist, and the importance of having a strong and secure Israel that is at peace with its neighbors, is well established. A lot of the people in this audience have worked with me on that issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with them on this issue,” Warnock said, responding to a question from the AJT.
Warnock defeated appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a January 2021 runoff to fill the two years remaining in the term of the late Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who had stepped down due to ill health. Polls show that Warnock, who is seeking a full, six-year, is in a close race with Republican Herschel Walker. Georgia law requires that the winner in an election receive the majority of the votes cast and the presence of the Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver on the Nov. 8 general election ballot could force a Dec. 6 runoff.
“It’s great to be among friends,” Warnock told the 200-plus who attended in-person and more viewing online, “and I need us to do it one more time.”
A Jewish Electorate Institute national survey of 800 self-identified registered Jewish voters, interviewed Aug. 25 to Sept. 1 by GBAO Research, asked which two issues “are most important to you” when voting for Congress in November. The future of democracy (45 percent), abortion (38 percent), inflation and the economy (28 percent), and climate change (25 percent) topped a list of 11 issues. Israel tied for ninth (7 percent), though 71 percent of respondents described themselves as feeling very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel.
“Because you sent me to the Senate, we were able to get great things done for our state and for our families,” Warnock said, beginning his review with the expanded child tax credit included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, approved by the Democratic-led Congress in 2021 without Republican support.
Warnock touted provisions to fund improved broadband access, notably in rural America, along with repairs to roads, bridges, highways, and water systems. “Broadband in the 21st century is what electricity was in the 20th century…Broadband is essential,” he said, citing its role in closing “the homework gap” for children and the growth of “tele-health” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Infrastructure is about bricks and mortar, to be sure, but it’s really about more than that. Infrastructure is about the spirit of a country…the recognition that we live in the same house,” he said.
The Democrat drew chuckles as he described his joining with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — “We don’t agree on much” — on an amendment to authorize expansion of Interstate 14 in their states.
Warnock also highlighted two provisions that he championed in the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August by Democrats without Republican support. One caps out-of-pocket spending for Medicare Part D enrollees and the other caps the cost of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare recipients.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, more than 12 percent of Georgia adults have diabetes. “One dollar out of four in our health care system nationally is spent on people with diabetes. Diabetes in a real sense is a door of entry into our health care system, as you talk about chronic disease,” Warnock said, adding that he wants to see that protection extended to people with private insurance.
He also cited what he labeled “unprecedented” investments in the bill to address climate change. “This issue is urgent. Climate change is an existential threat,” Warnock said.
I’m a man of faith and, as a man of faith, I have profound reverence for life, and I have a deep and abiding respect for choice. A patient’s room is too small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. That’s just too many people in the room.
On the Supreme Court ruling that abortion is not a right protected under the Constitution, Warnock said, “I’m a man of faith and as a man of faith I have profound reverence for life, and I have a deep and abiding respect for choice. A patient’s room is too small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. That’s just too many people in the room.”
Warnock noted that his flock at Ebenezer Baptist Church included the late Democratic Rep. John Lewis, sometimes referred to as having been “the conscience of the Congress.”
“I’m not trying to fill his big shoes. But I can tell you, after about 18 or 19 months in the Senate, that if the Congress on the House side needs a conscience, the Senate needs a soul,” Warnock said. If re-elected, “You’re not getting a senator who used to be a pastor. You’re getting a pastor in the Senate.”
Warnock, who has long-standing ties to the Atlanta Jewish community, referenced the term “tikkun olam,” translated as “repairing the world,” a phrase drawn from the Aleinu prayer. “That is the sensibility and conviction that I bring to my job every single day,” he told his audience of supporters.
- Dave Schechter
- Jewish Voters
- Midterm Elections
- Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock
- Jewish Democrat Council of America
- Jewish Democratic Women's Salon of Atlanta
- Jewish Democratic Women for Action
- Ebenezer Baptist Church
- Michael Rosenzweig
- Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler
- Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson
- Republican Herschel Walker
- Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver
- Jewish Electorate Institute
- GBAO Research
- future of democracy
- inflation and the economy
- Climate Change
- American Rescue Plan
- Sen. Ted Cruz
- Inflation Reduction Act
- Medicare Part D
- Georgia Department of Public Health
- Rep. John Lewis