On Tuesday, Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s run for New Jersey’s 9th congressional district took a favorable turn. Boteach, the sex book writer, therapist and former spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson, among other stars, won the GOP primary. While he remains a long-shot in the heavily-Democratic district, his victory is notable.
Now that he is the Republican candidate this November, NorthJersey.com has more about some of the issues the faith leader-turned politician plans to focus upon:
Boteach said he would make human rights an issue in the campaign. He also said his refusal to talk about divisive social issues such as gay marriage would help him in the general election against Rep. Bill Pascrell ofPaterson in the heavily-Democratic district.
“I believe I am a crossover candidate,” Boteach, ofEnglewood, said.
He said he supports Arab uprisings against undemocratic governments, a position that he said would help him with Passaic County’s large Muslim population. And he said he would be an advocate for family values, pressing for tax breaks for marriage counseling. He also said he would like to extend Bergen County’s blue laws, using economic incentives for stores to stay closed on a weekend day to create “an American Sabbath.”
While the famed rabbi has been actively seeking the Congressional spot, so have two Democrats who were, until last night, engaged in a vicious primary debate. Boteach, who is known for providing advice to conflicting individuals, recently made headlines when he released a video offering to moderate the spat that Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman were having following redistricting that pitted the two against one another.
In the end, Pascrell ended up winning the primary and Boteach's appeal was ignored. Certainly, the offer to help facilitate a discussion among candidates on the opposing side is somewhat odd, but the public gesture did make the rabbi look overtly reasonable and anxious for viable and constructive debate -- elements that are positive for any candidate to embrace.
Here's the video in which Boteach offers to volunteer his time "to try to reduce the tensions that have totally overtaken their congressional race":
If, indeed, Boteach actually wins the election -- again, a long shot -- he'd be the first rabbi ever elected to Congress. While the historical accomplishment currently seems unattainable, in politics, anything is possible, as the landscape changes rather fluidly.
(H/T: Taking Points Memo)