Campaign Spotlight: Senate Challengers in Nevada and Pennsylvania

October 18, 2016

Nevada Senate

Our endorsee: Catherine Cortez Masto

masto-spotlightCortez Masto, who has served as Nevada’s Attorney General, is running for the seat opened up by the retirement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Cortez Masto believes the US can make headway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of its deep connections to both sides of the issue, and she wants the two-state solution to be a priority of the next presidential administration’s foreign policy.

She has been a strong supporter of diplomatic solutions and the Iran nuclear deal, describing the deal as the “best way” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Cortez Masto’s support for the agreement has been targeted in attack ads launched by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. JStreetPAC has responded by mounting a fundraising effort in support of Cortez Masto and her commitment to diplomacy-first foreign policy.

The opponent: Representative Joe Heck

spotlight-heckHeck, a three-term incumbent in the House of Representatives, is running for one of the only previously Democratic Senate seats that Republicans have a hope of winning this cycle. Heck has been an outspoken opponent of diplomatic solutions, including the Iran nuclear agreement, which he voted against in the House. He’s described it as a “terrible deal”, and has supported new Congressional measures designed to undermine the agreement and its major achievements.

The polls

The Cook Political Report currently lists the race as a Toss-Up.


Pennsylvania Senate

Our endorsee: Katie McGinty

mcginty-spotlightKatie McGinty has served as the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and as the Chief of Staff to PA’s Governor Tom Wolf. A strong advocate of the two-state solution and the importance of a strong US-Israel alliance rooted in shared values, McGinty was an early supporter of the Iran nuclear agreement.

Key quote

In my view, this agreement, aggressively enforced, offers a critical opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Although I understand and respect the heartfelt concerns of opponents of the agreement, I believe this agreement offers the most realistic way available to achieve our nation’s and Israel’s critical security goals.

The Opponent: Senator Pat Toomey

toomey-spotlightToomey is a one-term Republican incumbent who has staked out a foreign policy position far too hawkish for many Pennsylvania voters, while attacking McGinty for her support for diplomacy. He joined in with several aggressive Republican attempts to undermine the negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear agreement. That included adding his name to Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s notorious public letter to Iran’s ayatollahs, which was designed to embarrass President Obama and American negotiators.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey described the letter as “a misguided and reckless attempt to circumvent a sitting US president by going directly to the leader of the Iranian regime.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board said that “the senators who signed the letter should be ashamed.”

The polls

The Cook Political Report currently lists the race as a Toss-Up.


Take a look at J Street’s TV ad in support of McGinty: