Israel becomes a campaign issue in Stamford
By Cindy Mindell, <email@example.com>
STAMFORD - It's old news that Jim Himes routed challenger Lee Whitnum in the Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District. It's also old news that, a day before the Aug. 12 primary, Stamford mayor Dan Malloy publicly denounced Whitnum as an anti-Semite. Whitnum had based her campaign on a strong anti-AIPAC message, going so far as to blame the organization for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and to pin 9/11 on American support of Israel.
Your vote for me on August 12 sends a powerful message to Washington, Whitnum wrote on her website: We can break the strangle-hold of AIPAC, the Israel Lobby, on our political system. No more unnecessary wars for a special interest group. I, like many Americans pledge alliance to one country only; we want our country back.... PLEASE understand what is at stake.
In a letter to the Connecticut Post, published on Aug. 9, , Whitnum criticized Himes for participating in a 48-hour indoctrination trip to Israel, sponsored by AIPAC. Upon his return, Himes had pledged severe retaliation if Iran were to attack Israel.
Whitnum wrote: The Neoconservatives, the right wing branch of AIPAC, were instrumental in our decision to invade Iraq.... So why should AIPAC's influence-peddling, commonplace in Washington now be shunned? Because of the role of the neoconservatives in the taking down of Iraq and the reasons for rage that led to 2,700 lives lost in our own 9/11 attack. Osama bin Laden was clear about 9/11 as retaliation against the American-Israeli alliance's aggression against our people in Palestine and Lebanon.
Our primary focus should be to eliminate al-Qaida and to demand a successful resolution to the source of widespread anti-American sentiment: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. AIPAC's influence-peddling halts the discussion of the latter and is the main reason why nothing ever gets resolved over there.
Whitnum also presented her views in local TV ads and during the pre-primary debate with Himes, televised by Channel 12 in Norwalk.
In the end, Himes won 90 percent of the vote. Now that the confetti has settled, the fallout from Lee Whitnum's candidacy is just as troubling as its build-up.
In mid-July, liberal columnist Sarah Darer Littman was fired from the Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate for an op-ed she had written criticizing Whitnum and hosting a meet-and-greet for Himes. According to Littman's blog, Saramerica, she was told by MediaNews that the two actions had compromised the newspaper.
In response, to show that she is not alone in such behavior, Littman lists on her blog campaign-donation data on the late William F. Buckley, Jr. The conservative columnist simultaneously supported candidates and covered those candidates' races for The National Review.
Some State election officials are wondering whether the Aug. 12 primary was a waste of taxpayer money, especially considering Himes's landslide and the extremely low voter turnout in parts of the district. Whitnum didn't even receive as many votes as the number of signatures she collected to force the primary in the first place. While 4,000 registered voters signed her ballot petition, only around 2,000 voted for her in the primary.
Norwalk Democratic registrar of voters Betty Bondi estimates that the primary will cost her city's taxpayers $50,000 n which works out to around $715 for each of the 70 votes Whitnum received there.
So now Lee Whitnum, a substitute teacher in the Stamford public schools and a former software engineer, might return to her writing. Under the penname Lee Roystone, Whitnum has published two books, Hedge Fund Mistress and What about the Dead?
But even in this guise, Whitnum's anti-Israel rhetoric reverberates: Amazon.com reveals that customers who bought Hedge Fund Mistress from the website also purchased titles such as The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Synagogue of Satan, by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, by James Petras.