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February 5, 2014 By:
Jewish Democratic Group Endorses Leach
An organization of local Democratic Jews has endorsed State Sen. Daylin Leach in his bid to get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Leach is competing in a crowded field to replace Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who represents the 13th congressional district, which encompasses parts of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.
Schwartz, who is both the only Jew and only woman serving in Pennsylvania’s delegation in Washington, is running for governor.
Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania, which started as Obama Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania during the 2008 presidential election, is supporting Leach over three others vying for the Democratic nomination — Valerie Arkoosh, State Rep. Brendan Boyle and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies.
The primary race is expected to decide who will eventually fill the seat, as the district has been Democratic for more than a decade. The Jewish community has been split among the four candidates, with each receiving support from at least one notable donor.
Both Leach, who served three terms in the state House before running for the state Senate in 2008, and Margolies are Jewish. Leach became a Bar Mitzvah at an Orthodox synagogue in Allentown, attended the Conservative Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park for a time and now says he identifies more closely with Reform Judaism.
The group endorsed Leach on the basis of his efforts to increase funding for Pennsylvania public schools, his support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and his strong support of Israel, among other issues, said David Broida, one of its founders.
Broida said Margolies, who served one term in Congress before being voted out in 1994, has “a very short resume” and that Leach’s “public record trumps hers in every way.”
“He will be an extension of Allyson Schwartz: a strong supporter of the state of Israel, especially concerning Israel’s safety and security and Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Broida, who spent 32 years as the director of Upper Merion Township Parks and Recreation and has known Leach for more than 20 years.
Leach said he was “very proud and honored” to receive the group’s endorsement.
“I know a number of the people who are active in that organization and we’ve frequently spoken about our own vision of tikkun olam. We share a lot of the same ideas about the importance of helping people who are struggling and fighting discrimination wherever it may be.”
The Democratic outreach group, which actively supported Obama during his re-election campaign, also supported Gail Weilheimer, who was elected last year to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The organization also plans to be “actively involved” in the governor’s race, but doesn’t plan to endorse a candidate in the primary.
“All the candidates are good, so we don't want to endorse one over another. We like Allyson Schwartz. We like Rob McCord,” the treasurer of Pennsylvania, “so it doesn’t matter who wins. We want to save resources and time for the general election,” said Broida.