With Al Franken Victory, No Republican Jews in the Senate

With Norm Coleman's loss and Arlen Specter's switch, the GOP has only one Jew in Congress.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

One little-noticed effect of Al Franken's official installation in the Senate: Republicans now lack a Jewish senator for the first time in more than 50 years. Norm Coleman, whom Franken defeated, is Jewish, as is Sen. Arlen Specter, who recently left the GOP to run for re-election as a Democrat.

The sole Jewish Republican in Congress is now House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

With Franken's arrival and Specter's switch, the Democrats now have 13 Jewish senators and 31 Jewish House members.

What's so remarkable about the falloff of Republican Jews in Congress is that it coincides with the decade-long trend of Republicans making support for Israel a central issue for their party. That's been fueled largely by the growing numbers of conservative evangelicals who are identifying as Christian Zionists.

Could it be that Christian Zionism, seen largely as a Christian-right phenomenon, is scaring off more Jews—who tend to be very wary of religious conservatives—than it's drawing in? Or are these overlapping trends a mere coincidence?

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