In “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevya’s daughter Chava wants to marry a Russian Orthodox intellectual. In real life, Jared Kushner weds Ivanka Trump, and she converts to his Jewish faith.
Interfaith romances are common. San Diego Jewish World editor Don Harrison says the intermarriage rate among Jews in San Diego County is over 50%.
So it’s unremarkable that a Latino Arab-American and a Jewish woman with Israeli kin would have a relationship. But when the couple is rumored to be congressional candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar and Sara Jacobs, people take notice.
Until this spring, few had heard reports that Jacobs and Campa-Najjar were dating.
But a longtime Democratic insider and political consultant said he learned about it last year from someone very close to Campa-Najjar, the Democrat facing Darrell Issa in the 50th District. He didn’t confirm the report, but called the source reliable.
Another Democratic Party source told Times of San Diego on a promise of anonymity that the relationship started as long as 18 months ago and that it was well-known in party inner circles.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, leader of San Diego County Democrats, responded to queries with: “I am the chair of the Democratic Party, not an online dating service. No comment.”
In mid-April, the website Jewish Insider was first to report the candidates as a couple: “According to a source — and evidenced from recent social media posts — Jacobs is currently dating Ammar Campa-Najjar … who previously told JI he has a Jewish girlfriend” and was studying Hebrew.
Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel said Jacobs and Campa-Najjar had yet to confirm the relationship. Harrison soon mentioned the gossipy tidbit in San Diego Jewish World (1,400 words into a lengthy post).
“A big surprise in JI’s story is an unconfirmed report that Jacobs is dating Ammar Campa-Najjar, a candidate in the neighboring 50th Congressional District, who is of Palestinian and Mexican heritage,” Harrison wrote.
Harrison on Wednesday said he reached out to 53rd District candidate Jacobs in April but didn’t hear back. Times of San Diego queried both campaigns Tuesday but hasn’t received a response.
Campa-Najjar and Jacobs, both single, are each 31. They were born 23 days apart in February 1989 — she the granddaughter of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and he the son of a Palestinian father and Mexican-American mother, who raised Campa-Najjar by herself in El Cajon.
According to opensecrets.org, Jacobs has donated three times to Campa-Najjar’s campaigns — $2,700 in June 2018 and the maximum $2,800 twice in 2019. (She made similar contributions to former 49th District rival Mike Levin and dozens of others.)
The pair have been photographed together at public events, but Times of San Diego couldn’t find rumored photos of them in possibly family and vacation settings. A search of Twitter found only a handful of tweets referencing a dating relationship between the residents of Jamul (Campa-Najjar) and Park West (Jacobs).
So what political consequences might result from these reports?
San Diego Mesa College Professor Carl Luna, a longtime local politics watcher, said it would be minimal.
“We have lots of politicians dating or married to other politicians (and lobbyists and journalists) out there,” Luna said. “Where you work is often also your social and dating sphere, so no one should be surprised when dentists date dentists, plumbers date plumbers and politicians date each other.”
Questions about Jacobs helping fund Campa-Najjar also might prove irrelevant, he said. “That Democrats help Democrats and Republicans help Republicans is a simple fact of political life.”
Luna, director of the civil discourse program at University of San Diego (where Jacobs has taught as a visiting scholar), doesn’t read anything into the pair’s lack of transparency on a possible relationship.
“Personal life is personal life,” he said, “and while politicians work for us in their professional lives, unless their personal lives involve violations of ethics, law or public trust it really isn’t the public’s business.”
Via email, Luna concluded: “With all the issues we are facing as a community and nation, whom our candidates and elected officials are seeing shouldn’t even be on our radar. Politics is not supposed to be an episode of ‘The View.’”
— Corky (@corky79229) January 14, 2018