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Former AIPAC prez endorses Pascrell for Ninth
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Former AIPAC prez endorses Pascrell for Ninth

Democratic primary sees foes competing for Jewish support

Pro-Israel stalwart and top Democratic fund-raiser David Steiner is supporting Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Dist. 8) in his primary fight against Rep. Steve Rothman.

As Pascrell and Rothman line up endorsements in their heated showdown over the reconfigured District 9, the Pascrell camp issued an e-mail statement by Steiner, a West Orange resident, on March 1.

“Bill Pascrell has shown time and again that he will stand and fight for middle-class taxpayers against Tea Party Republican efforts to slash Medicare and Social Security,” said Steiner. “Over the years, Bill has proven that he is a fighter, willing to stand up for families in his district, and unafraid to take on the tough issues and the difficult fights.”

Steiner’s endorsement follows that of Herb Klein, who represented Pascrell’s current District 8 in Congress from 1993 to 1995, as Pascrell’s camp seeks to shore up support within the Jewish community.

Steiner, a real estate developer, is a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a major donor to United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. He sits on the board of the National Jewish Democratic Council. CEO of the Steiner Equities Group in Roseland, he also owns Steiner Studios in Queens and is a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Rothman has been touting endorsements from leaders in the Jewish community.

On Sunday, March 18, Rothman will be hosted by NORPAC, a pro-Israel PAC, at a Teaneck fund-raiser.

Last month, the Rothman campaign announced that Orthodox synagogue presidents in Passaic urged their congregants to switch party registration from Republican to Democrat so they can vote for Rothman in the June 5 Democratic primary.

In a March 2 telephone interview, Steiner told NJ Jewish News he is unfazed by reports that Rothman, who is Jewish and outspoken in his Israel advocacy, will draw Jewish support away from Pascrell.

“Bill Pascrell has been a stalwart supporter of Israel ever since he has been in Congress, and that is why I am going to continue to support him,” Steiner said. “I think he has been very good for Israel. Every time I have called him, I have gotten a good response. I think he deserves to be reelected.”

Pascrell has drawn NORPAC support in the past, but critics have pointed to occasional votes and positions he has taken that were not supported by AIPAC. Pascrell’s district includes the large Arab-American population in Paterson.

Until the redrawing of district maps, Rothman had represented Bergen County, which has a large Jewish population.

“I think Steve Rothman does a great job up in Bergen County, and it is one thing to be able to stand up and speak for Israel in Fair Lawn and Teaneck,” said Steiner, referring to two towns with sizable Jewish populations. “But it takes a lot more courage to do that in Paterson.”

Responding on Rothman’s behalf, spokesperson Aaron Keyak wrote in a March 2 e-mail to NJJN, “we appreciate Mr. Steiner’s judgment, especially as a supporter of Congressman Bill Pascrell, that Congressman Rothman does a ‘great job.’ Congressman Rothman’s pro-Israel credentials speak for themselves. He is proud to have the endorsement of NORPAC, the largest pro-Israel PAC in the country and New Jersey, as well as many other pro-Israel leaders in the northern New Jersey — including some from Congressman Pascrell’s district —for Congressman Rothman’s leadership in fighting for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”

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