Adam Hasner, the former Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, is considered a comer in GOP circles and a genuine Jewish Republican all star.
He is also a strong defender of Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial proposal for overhauling Medicare – a proposal that has many Republican candidates running for cover and which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called "right-wing social engineering.” .
That could make next year’s Florida Senate contest one of the best tests yet of who is right: Jewish Republicans, who believe Israel their ace in the hole with Jewish voters, or Jewish Democrats, who say that with very few exceptions, it’s critical domestic issues that determine the Jewish vote.
Hasner is one of a flock of contenders for the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in next year’s election. Last week he sent an email to supporters saying this about Ryan’s budget plan, which was recently approved by the GOP-led U.S. House:
“While my Republican opponents stick their fingers in the wind to see what the election results from last night mean for them, I remain steadfast in my support for Path to Prosperity Plan introduced by Congressman Paul Ryan. In fact, my only complaint is that it may not go far enough, fast enough.”
He said he would “vote for the plan without hesitation, because I know that the alternatives are rationed care and declining healthcare options, watching Social Security and Medicare slowly go bankrupt, or America faltering under the weight of unsustainable entitlement programs.”
Gleeful Democrats are already using Ryan’s proposals to attack Republicans in the early rounds of the 2012 campaigns – and you can bet the charge that the GOP wants to gut Medicare will be hurled the most aggressively in retiree-rich Florida.
So, which will have more juice with Jewish voters in the Sunshine State? GOP charges that President Obama is throwing Israel under the bus, and that the entire Democratic Party has gone soft on support for the Jewish state? Or Democratic charges that the Republicans, with Ryan their new budget guru and Hasner his acolyte, would gut the health care and economic security programs that so many older Americans depend on?
History is with the Democrats on this one, but 2012 promises to be an unusually volatile election year. Stay tuned; Florida could once again be the epicenter of Jewish politics as the campaigns get underway.