Knocking on the Door of the Christian GOP Fortress

As you probably recall, Eric Cantor is currently the only non-Christian Republican member of Congress. With his impending exit, this tiny shred of religious diversity could go with him unless some other Jewish Republican gets elected in November.

Is that likely to happen? Hard to say. The Forward‘s Nathan Guttman profiles several Jewish GOP House candidates, but the two in reasonably competitive districts (Adam Kwasman in AZ-01 and Lee Zeldin in NY-01) have difficult nomination contests to navigate.

Kwasman sounds like a real piece of work:

“I’m a practicing member of the Jewish faith,” he told the audience at one local candidates forum in May, according to the website “Let me tell you, having that experience, knowing what’s happened to my people in Nazi Germany, when they came for the firearms first….it’s what the Nazis did.”

Kwasman also prides himself on being endorsed by Joe Arpaio, the controversial Maricopa County sheriff whose broad crackdowns on undocumented immigrants led to findings of “a pervasive discriminatory bias against Latinos” by the Justice Department in 2011 after a three-year investigation. (Arpaio denied practicing discrimination.)

Kwasman attended Jewish day school and is a member of a Conservative synagogue in Tucson. The district he seeks to represent is made up primarily of evangelical Christians and members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. But Kwasman says he uses the Old Testament’s Leviticus 25 quote, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants,” to preach his message of free markets and small government.

If Kwasman does manage to win, he’ll fit right in with the more right-wing of Christians in the House GOP conference.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.