Whether they voted Republican or Democrat, Israel and other Jewish concerns played little or no role in the choices of a random sample of Jewish voters in Morris and Essex counties.
“Jewish issues did not come into this one drop,” said Jill Tekel before she cast her ballot at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange on Nov. 3. “Religion and Israel have no impact on my vote.”
Tekel told NJ Jewish News she voted for the Democratic ticket of Gov. Jon Corzine and Loretta Weinberg “because they are the best of what is offered right now — but it is not too good. I trust Corzine the most and I don’t know what Chris Christie is or what he is going to do.”
Morris County Freeholder Jack Schrier, a staunch Republican also running for reelection, said the election was strictly about performance.
“The alternative doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Schrier, who voted for the Republican ticket of Chris Christie and Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno. “People who run for reelection like to point to their record and say, ‘Look what I’ve done for you so far, and here’s what I’m going to do for you in the future.’ If you look at the record of the current governor, there is no reason to vote for him, and no promise or expectation there will be a big difference.”
NJJN buttonholed voters on Tuesday at the end of a gubernatorial race that remained too close to call. (Polls closed after NJJN went to press.)
Ellen R. Kramer of West Orange, president of Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, said there is a big difference between the two gubernatorial candidates.
“I supported Corzine based on his position on abortion and women’s rights and social issues. Social issues are basically a Jewish cause,” she said.
Gloria Cohen told NJJN she planned to vote for Christie in Parsippany after she finished her shift as a receptionist at Gold’s Gym in Whippany.
“I think the state is spending too much money, my property taxes are too high, and I do not believe that Corzine is for the working person. He never has been and he is not now,” she said.
As far as Jewish issues influencing her decision, Cohen said, “Not within the state, no. With Corzine I don’t have that problem.”
“I understand that people are worried about the state of the economy and they’re frustrated, but I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Ian Grodman, chair of the Maplewood Democratic Party. “Jon Corzine has done an amazing job. He managed to cut 8,000 jobs without any layoffs, and even with budget cuts, he has been able to do more for our schools.”
Joined by his six-year-old daughter, Abigail, and four-year-old, Shira, Yoav Rosenblatt of West Orange said he was voting for Christie.
“I am concerned about Corzine and our tremendous taxes. I feel like New Jersey is in tremendous disrepair,” he said.
Speaking with NJJN at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, Harvey Weiss said, “I think Corzine is the best of the candidates and I’m a Democrat. I think Obama is going to do the best thing for Israel, but that didn’t influence me.”
As they left the hotel lobby in West Orange after casting their votes, Emily and Norman Rothenberg both proclaimed themselves Democrats.
“I think Corzine’s extremely bright, and he is for women’s rights,” said Emily. “I wouldn’t ever vote for anybody who could say I don’t have a choice with what I do with my body.”
“I voted for Weinberg for lieutenant governor,” said her husband. “I like her record. She is very feisty, and she has fought for a lot of liberal causes affecting women and other areas.”
As she headed to cast her vote at Morrow Memorial Church in Maplewood, Risa Olinsky declined to reveal her choice. “I’m voting on the financial issues,” she told NJJN. “It’s a really difficult situation, and I don’t know if anyone can make things better at the moment, but I think we have to go for the person who seems most likely to know what to do.”
Elaine Durbach contributed to this article.