GOP control of the Senate is key for Trump to continue his policies in the Middle East, many of which have favored Israel.
By: Jackson Richman/JNS and United with Israel Staff
Despite losing its seven-year control of the House of Representatives, the Republican Party added some seats to its Senate majority on Tuesday in the midterm elections.
Considering that Israel—and, increasingly, the rest of the Middle East—have become more of a partisan issue, GOP control of the Senate is crucial for President Donald Trump to continue his policies regarding Israel, especially since some in the Democratic Party have been leaning away from traditional support of the Jewish state.
“We were also really happy to see that every Senate Democrat in a tough race that supported the  Iran nuclear deal lost,” Republican Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Strauss told JNS. “We obviously made a huge investment in the North Dakota race, reminding the voters there that Heidi Heitkamp betrayed their confidence by supporting the deal, and that was a huge factor in that race.”
“In 2015, we made a big investment in Indiana to make sure those voters knew that [Joe] Donnelly was betraying them to support President Obama’s failed Iran deal. The voters in Indiana didn’t forget, in part, because we wouldn’t let them,” he added.
For Jerusalem, Against Iran
Idaho Sen. Jim Risch is expected to succeed outgoing Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
In Arizona, Republican Rep. Martha McSally beat Democratic Rep. Krysten Sinema.
McSally applauded the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. She also supported Trump’s decision to nix American participation in the Iran deal.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott beat incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. As governor, Scott signed an anti-BDS bill into law in 2016, which prohibits the state from investing in or doing business with companies that boycott Israel.
In Missouri, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley unseated incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. Hawley applauded the president for relocating the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In New Jersey, Democrat Bob Menendez fended off Republican Bob Hugin. Menendez was one of the most outspoken Democratic senators against the original Iran deal. He did support the US embassy move.
In Pennsylvania, incumbent Democrat Bob Casey was re-elected. While Casey has backed the Iran deal and condemned US withdrawal from it, he favored moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He also introduced legislation requiring the Department of Education to expand its definition of anti-Semitism to include support for the BDS movement and criticism of Israel that “demonizes,” “delegitimizes” or measures it through a “double standard.”
In Texas, incumbent Republican Ted Cruz was re-elected. Cruz has been one of the staunchest pro-Israel members of Congress, opposing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and vouching for the now-enacted Taylor Force Act to eliminate most U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority
Additionally, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Cruz passed last month that would sanction members of terrorist groups like Hamas who use civilians as human shields.
In West Virginia, incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin won re-election against Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Manchin has repeatedly been unafraid to break with his party, such as being against the Iran deal, though he announced his stance when there was already enough party support. He also supported US withdrawal from the agreement. Moreover, he was one of only two Democrats to vote in favor of David Friedman’s confirmation as US ambassador to Israel.
Pro-Israel Candidates Win in Gubernatorial Races
Despite Democrats flipping seven seats in what turned out to be a head-turning competition among gubernatorial candidates, the Republicans are projected to hold the majority of governor mansions nationwide.
Many of the issues at the state level are predictably less concerned with foreign policy. At the same time, issues related to Israel have come up on the state level with efforts to pass anti-BDS measures—approved by 25 states in recent years—and business and high-tech partnerships between individual states and Israel.
Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis beat Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. During his campaign, DeSantis promised he would be the “most pro-Israel governor in the country” and vowed that his first trip abroad as governor would be to the Jewish state.
DeSantis was one of the most ardent pro-Israel members of Congress. For one, the former congressman sought closure for American victims of Palestinian terrorism and has held the US Department of Justice accountable for not prosecuting those responsible. He also backed the Taylor Force Act, enacted into law to prevent US taxpayer funds from supporting the Palestinian Authority’s initiative rewarding terrorists and their families.
DeSantis has also supported Trump’s agenda on Israel, from withdrawing the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, both occurring in May.
In Illinois, Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker unseated incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner. Pritzker has opposed the Iran nuclear deal, and has previously served on the board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).