Item! Mike Huckabee, the most zealously pro-Israel potential candidate for president—at least if you judge by the dozen-plus trips he has taken to Israel and his hard-line anti-Palestinian rhetoric (that ethnic definition, he said, is “a political tool to try to force land away from Israel”)—announced over the weekend that he would not seek the 2012 Republican nomination. So who will be the preferred Jewish candidate in the GOP primaries? James Besser usefully notes that while old-line Republicans, including Jews, would tend to back Mitt Romney—the pragmatic nominee who has waited his turn (the comparisons to John Kerry in 2004 are eerily resonant)—the whole Mormon thing may make him unpalatable to much of the Republican electorate. Besser says Jews (and Jewish money) are likely instead to wait and see. My prediction? Newt Gingrich will enchant enough Jewish voters (and others) to finally, at long last, become his party’s standard-bearer.
Item! Sen. Herb Kohl, four-term Democrat of Wisconsin, said he will not run for re-election in 2012 and instead retire. This is worse news for Democrats, who now need to defend a seat in a battleground state—where, in 2010, a Republican was elected to the governor’s mansion and a Democratic senator was unseated—with no advantage of incumbency. But this also threatens the U.S. Senate’s Jew-count (currently at 12, including Kohl), since none of the likely GOP contenders (including rising star Rep. Paul Ryan) appear to be Members of the Tribe. The Jews’ and the Democrats’ hope here is the same: It’s Russ Feingold, the very senator who was unseated in 2010. My prediction? Ryan takes what is his and thereby chips into the Senate’s Democratic and Jewish caucuses. UPDATE: This morning, Paul Ryan announced he wouldn’t run. (Stupid!) Anyway, Feingold, take your shot!
Item! Reps. Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer—the Majority and Minority Whips, respectively—have submitted a resolution that would suggest that the administration sanction the Palestinian Authority if it goes through with reconciliation and allows Hamas into its ranks. My prediction? This will pass by a wide, wide majority if not unanimously and have no effect whatsoever other than to make the crowd at the AIPAC conference happy, because it’s nonbinding, which is why this item is at the bottom.
Item! I’m out of items.
Huck Out, Jewish GOP Givers Waiting for a Winner? [Political Insider]
Wisconsin Sen. Kohl Won’t Run Again [JTA]
Hoyer, Cantor Circulate Resolution Urging P.A. Sanctions [JTA]
Earlier: Huckabee in the Holy Land
A Few New Jews
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.