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Reps. Randy Fine and Jason Fischer.

2020

‘Challenging my Jewishness’: Randy Fine, Ben Marcus spar in wake of Abraham Accords

Representative, candidate exchange social media barbs.

The historic occasion of the Abraham Accords was one of celebration for many Florida Republicans, including two state lawmakers who greeted each other warmly at the White House signing ceremony.

Reps. Randy Fine and Jason Fischer said they were thrilled to be at the event, but not too long after the normalization deal was signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, hostilities broke out on Twitter between Fine and Fischer’s Democratic opponent in the November election, Ben Marcus.

By the end, Fine was saying that Marcus was “challenging his Jewishness,” in an exchange full of sharp elbows and personal attacks.

“Challenging my Jewishness. Perhaps I think it best to keep my politics out of my congregation. I thought you Democrats were all about separation of church and state. About what I’d expect from the party of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib,” Fine tweeted.

That comment came after Marcus chastised Fine for not going to local shuls, after noting Fischer had gone to two of them.

“I wouldn’t celebrate pandering to the Orthodox or getting laughed out of the Reform shul but slapping backs for mediocrity and shameful behavior is the Florida GOP way as of late, so I’m not surprised at your response. Pretty disappointing nonetheless,” Marcus asserted.

Marcus was voluble throughout the afternoon on Twitter, asserting that “my religion and culture is not available for exploitation by political hacks who don’t care about my community or Israel beyond getting votes. It’s absolutely despicable and Jewish politicians who silently stand by while colleagues lay claim are too.”

For his part, Fine tweeted to Fischer that he “look[s] forward to you kicking this loser’s butt.”

In terms of the resource war in HD 16, metrics are with the incumbent.

His “Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville” political committee has just over $100,000, and he has an additional $72,000 in hard money. Marcus has roughly $6,000 on hand for the homestretch.

The Fine versus Marcus fracas, meanwhile, underscores a larger battle happening between the parties in Florida about whether Republicans indeed are more successfully courting Jewish voters.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, addressing the Jewish Democratic Council of America last week, noted that Republicans are making a concerted effort to be seen as the pro-Israel party and are making inroads with Jewish voters with aggressive messaging that is taking root in Florida and the Middle East itself.

“They’re trying to get the Jewish vote in the state of Florida,” Fried said on a Thursday evening Zoom call. “DeSantis has been trying to say ‘Trump is the best President for the state of Israel.’”

“And the state of Israel, and the people who are there, sometimes they believe it,” she continued. “You walk around and they’ve got yarmulkes with Trump on [them.] They’re naming settlements after Trump.”

For his part, meanwhile, Fine contends that the President is “Israel’s greatest friend.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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