Posted by on November 02, 2010 in Blog

As we watch the election returns tonight, there are specific races we will be monitoring closely. Whether the races involve Arab American candidates, candidates who have engaged in shameful ethnic or religious baiting during the election cycle, or races whose turnout will simply help to determine the control of the House and Senate, they are the races we are watching.

Here is a rundown of these races listed according to the poll closing times. While this is a quick score sheet we wanted to share with you, look for our post-election report coming out soon with analysis. 



Many will be looking to Kentucky's Senate race between Republican Rand Paul and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway to gauge this year's protest vote. Polls show Tea Party favorite Rand Paul ahead.  



Florida's 22nd district has incumbent Democrat Ron Klein facing Republican Tea Party challenger Allen West. West, who "admitted wrongdoing in a military court" for firing a gun near a detainee's head while in Iraq, has made some fairly alarming statements on Islam, including: "Islam is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology. It is not a religion." He also stated, "Mahmoud Abbas isn't the leader of anything else than a gang."


Governor Sarah Palin's influence was aptly demonstrated in South Carolina’s governor's race. Before Palin's endorsement, Nikki Haley was viewed as long shot and is now favored to win the race over Arab American State Senator Vincent Sheheen. Though Haley has garnered a lot of national attention, polling suggests that her lead is decreasing to single digits heading into today giving the formidable Sheheen, a real chance at victory.


As Glenn Nye (D-VA 2), was targeted by the extreme Pro-Israeli Emergency Committee for Israel with ads against his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nye's race is one to watch. Recent press accounts of the campaign led with headlines like, "Virginia House candidates battle over Israel in final debate."



The fight to fill the seat of Robert C. Byrd in West Virginia is a critical race for Democrats in their efforts to hold on to the Senate majority. A loss by Gov. Joe Manchin III to businessman John Raese, the Republican, would keep Republican hopes alive for a takeover while a loss by Raese would greatly complicate the takeover bid.

Nick Rahall (D) has served West Virginia’s 3rd district for 34 years with distinction.  However, resorting to ugly campaigning, Spike Maynard, the former state Supreme Court Justice has attempted to field a formidable challenge to Congressman Rahall.  Maynard’s baseless attacks have blamed Rahall for assisting President Obama on health care reform, the stimulus package and his “war on coal,” a key issue in the district.  Moreover, Maynard has released shameful campaign ads highlighting Congressman Rahall’s Arab heritage and asserting that Rahall is “Good for the Middle East, Good for Obama, and Bad for America.”  While such negative, hateful campaigning may work against some candidates, it is far less likely to work against an incumbent who is well known by his constituents and one of the most respected member of Congress. Before Maynard’s attacks, Rahall was facing attack ads from an independent 527 called, West Virginia Conservative Foundation (WVCF).  This was a disgraceful effort at Arab-baiting, where the WVCF wanted to portray Arab Americans as some alien and threatening group that isn't "like the rest of us."


Renee Ellmer in the 2nd Distric of North Carolina is running against Bob Etheridge.  Her campaing language has included using “Muslim” and “terrorist” interchangeably in an anti-Park51 ad. She stated, “The terrorists haven’t won, and we should tell them in plain Enlgish: NO! There will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.”

In response to CNN’s Anderson Cooper saying the people building Park 51 were not terrorists, Ellmers asked twice: “Do you know that sir? Do you know that sir?”  She added, ”I am running for the people of District 2 NC, who are good, hardworking Christian people.”

Ilario Pantano is the Tea Party candidate for NC’s 7th District running against Mike McIntyre. Pantano was accused with the murder of unarmed detainees in Iraq, but charges were later dropped when "no credible evidence" was found to prosecute.  Speaking at a rally at Ground Zero in New York organized by the notoriously anti-Muslim Pamela Gellar, Pantano said, "My family and I traveled from our home in North Carolina to stand shoulder to shoulder in objection to this thinly veiled effort at marking Muslim conquest."  He added, "The suggestion that this mysteriously funded mosque is anything other than a permanent demonstration of Islam’s march on the West is naïve at best," writes Pantano in an article for The Daily Caller. "This is about marking religious, ideological and territorial conquest."


Watch returns from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut and Missouri for the first of the evening's closest Senate races.   


In another race that gained national attention for being targeted by the extreme Emergency Committee for Israel, Democrat Joe Sestak is trailing in the polls behind Republican Pat Toomey.  Israel has been a frequent issue of discussion in the race with Pat Toomey at one point criticizing President Obama’s administration for its “unusually harsh” treatment of Israel stating, “When America’s strongest ally in the Middle East makes an internal decision about its own capital city, the administration unleashes a heavy barrage of denunciations.” Toomey added, “It’s as if this administration sees Jewish homes in Jerusalem as a bigger threat to international peace than nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. It’s illogical and outrageous.”

Sestak’s attack by the Emergency Committee for Israel accused him of “Signing a letter supposedly condemning Israel for collective punishment on Gaza when all they were doing was defending themselves, raised money for an anti-Israel organization that the FBI called a front for Hamas. Refused to sign bi-partisan report reaffirming support for Israel.”


Congressman Mark Kirk is running as the Republican candidate for the Senate in Illinois. During his time in the House of Representatives, Kirk voted to defend Israel’s Operation Cast Lead on Gaza as legitimate self-defense, to dismiss the Goldstone Report which documented the atrocities committed in Israel and Gaza during that operation, and to support Israel’s raid on the humanitarian flotilla on route to Gaza earlier this year. He is running a close race against Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Giannoulias, who is the recipient of community support, has advocated for a two-state solution and defended the building of the Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, asking “are we going to talk about tolerance, talk about freedom of religion or are we actually going to practice it?” 


In Connecticut’s 4th District, Republican candidate Dan Debicella is barely ahead in the polls of Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. Himes has been the target of negative ads by the same Emergency Committee for Israel referenced above.  They accused him of allegedly being “anti-Israel” for signing a letter expressing concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of Israel’s blockade. This attack comes despite the fact that Himes voted to support Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008/09, against the Goldstone Report, and in defense of Israel’s raid on the humanitarian flotilla earlier this year. Republican Dan Debicella has also questioned Himes’ support for Israel.


At age 30, Arab American Justin Amash is an emerging leader in the Republican party. Recently, Time Magazine listed Amash in its list of "40 under 40 - Rising Stars of U.S. Politics," and Amash’s support of libertarian principals have garnered the support of the Tea Party and the endorsement of Ron Paul. Amash is currently serving his first term as State Represenative for Michigan’s 72nd district and is poised to win by large margins over Pat Miles (D) to the U.S. House of Represenatives for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional district.



Incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet is seeking his first full-term after receiving the surprise appointment by Governor Ritter to fill the vacant seat of Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. According to sources, recent controversial comments from challenger Republican Ken Buck have diminished his lead in the polls and could shift Colorado’s electorate in favor of the Democrats. The results from this race may very well dictate which party controls the Senate in 2011 and many believe this race may be too close to call even at the end of the day on November 2.

Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold went into today with a narrow lead over his opponent, Republican Ron Johnson with a substantial portion of the voters still undecided.  Even though Senator Feingold, a civil liberties champion in the Senate, has raised $12.6 million his race is too close to call.


Senate majority leader Harry Reid is facing a tough election battle against Republican challenger and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. Angle gained notoriety when she falsely alleged that Dearborn, MI, the US city with the highest concentration of Arab Americans, was ruled by Sharia Law. Here is her full quote:

“We're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe isn't a widespread thing. But it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it. My thoughts are these. First of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under Constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States. It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.”

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