Candidate draws criticism for noting religious difference with rivalby George Bennett | July 17th, 2012
In a Democratic Palm Beach County commission primary where Jewish voters may be a majority, candidate Steven Meyer has drawn fire for sending thousands of mailers that note that he is Jewish and rival Mary Lou Berger is not.
Meyer’s mailing to voters who requested absentee ballots in south county District 5 includes a “comparison of candidates” that lists categories such as “Occupation,” “Education” and “Residence.”
The comparison also includes “Religion: Jewish” for Meyer and “Religion: Christian” for Berger.
Meyer said he was merely trying to provide “biographical data” and wasn’t suggesting Jewish voters should choose him because of his religion.
“If it’s offended somebody, I’ll take full responsibility because I’m the candidate,” said Meyer.
Local Democratic leaders have condemned the mailing.
“It has completely no place in any election, particularly a Democratic primary,” said county Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel, who is Jewish.
Marvin Manning, president of the Democratic club at the heavily Jewish Century Village of Boca Raton retirement community, called Meyer’s mailing “very insulting to our community.”
Manning, who is Jewish, has endorsed Berger in the primary. She is a longtime aide to term-limited Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who has also endorsed Berger. Aaronson, who is Jewish, called it “reprehensible” for Meyer to highlight his religion.
Berger, Meyer and Rick Neuhoff are running in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary for south-county commission District 5, which includes large numbers of Jewish retirees.
Siegel said he believes the majority of Democrats in the district are Jewish.
Neuhoff isn’t mentioned in Meyer’s mailer. Neuhoff, who is Jewish, sent out a campaign news release in February that described him as “a Jewish man,” but he later revised it to drop that description because “I thought it read kind of funny.”