Candidate for Congress sees Israel through economic lens

Scott Olmer, a candidate for Congress who knows he faces an uphill battle, is a supporter of Israel, based largely on economic grounds.

In an interview, he said he very much views the United States relationship with Israel through an economic lens.

Scott Olmer

“Obviously having an ally and a friend within the Middle East is essential. But the fact that Israel represents 3 percent of the population in the Middle East and purchases 25 percent of our exports just shows that they are a very valuable trading partner,” said Scott Olmer, a Republican candidate for Congress. Of all U.S. exports to the Middle East, Israel buys 25 percent, according to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Olmer, of Plymouth, said he understands that he’s got an uphill battle in the 2018 race for the Sixth Congressional District. The incumbent is Republican Rep. Glenn Grothman, who won more than 57 percent of the vote with two opponents in 2016. For 2018, Dan Kohl of Mequon, the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, is also running – as a Democrat.

Olmer at first announced he was running as a Democrat, but in August he changed his mind and decided to instead seek the Republican nomination. When asked about it, he said his platform is not centered on social issues, but job growth and economic issues.

Originally from Seattle, the Plymouth, Wis. political newcomer admits he doesn’t have a strong background in foreign affairs as it relates to Israel. “Obviously, if I were elected, I would hire folks who have that background,” he said.

He does say he supports a two-state solution and that he would be supportive of aid to Israel.

To run, he said he’s taking time off from his professional life, working with realtors in branding and marketing.

He feels part of his role in Congress will be to encourage economic cooperation between Israel and the United States. Israel’s robust technology sector provides opportunity for Wisconsin, he said.

“It’s a good model for us.”

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This story has been corrected from the original version, which misstated the margin of victory in the 2016 election for Rep. Glenn Grothman. He won more than 57 percent of the vote with two opponents in 2016.