It’s no surprise that Jews are both involved and interested in politics, but in Pittsburgh, one race leading to the Nov. 2 midterm elections has a special significance to the small-in-number, large-in-votes minority.
Democratic State Rep. Dan Frankel and his challenger, Republican Dan Wiseman, are both Jews themselves. They are running to represent the 23rd Legislative District, which includes Squirrel Hill and much of Oakland, Shadyside and Point Breeze, all with significant Jewish populations.
Frankel and Wiseman said that they don’t believe two Jewish candidates will cause much of a rift in the Jewish community, though Frankel commented on the communities’ political awareness.
“The Jewish community is very active politically; very vocal,” said Frankel, calling from Harrisburg. “But that really reflects the entire district, not just one community. It’s a district that is highly educated and affluent compared to other districts. It has some pretty progressive outlooks.”
Wiseman said that he would target voters who, “believe in the things I believe in,” regardless of their religious affiliation. “I’m looking for people who want to support someone who’s pro-life, an NRA member and believes in freedom, liberty and a strong future of the United States, not riddled by debt.”
Frankel has represented the 23rd Legislative District since he was first elected in 1998. Prior to that, he served as president of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service, among other roles.
Wiseman has worked as a financial advisor with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in Pittsburgh since 2005; he was the Kollel Jewish Learning Center’s director of development from 2000 to 2003. Politically, he has worked or volunteered on state-level campaigns in Massachusetts and Wyoming, as well as being a past Republican committeeman from Squirrel Hill.
While Frankel acknowledged that Jews play a large role in politics nationally, he said, “there are not many Jewish members of state Legislature. I’m the only one in western, Pa. Including the Philly region, I don’t even think we have a minyan.”
(Justin Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.)