Evan McMullin, an independent candidate for president based out of Utah, is a Mormon and he's chosen a very interesting vice presidential candidate: Mindy Finn, a businesswoman and tech entrepreneur living in Washington, D.C. She's an interesting pick, not the least because she's conservative and Jewish.
But don't expect any decent news take-outs about her faith. Even though it's been two weeks since she was announced as McMullin's running mate, there's been very little written about her and especially her beliefs.
I can excuse the secular media not getting too worked up over Finn’s faith as she and her running mate are long shots at making a dent in this election (other than in Utah, of course). But Jewish media should be ahead of the game on this one.
Typical of the coverage-lite out there is this piece from the Forward:
Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin announced a Jewish running mate last weekend: Mindy Finn.
Finn is a veteran GOP strategist who runs a feminist non-profit. She and McMullin, a former CIA agent, see their independent candidacy as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump.
With their religious makeup -- a Mormon and a Jew -- and their outspokenness, the McMullin/Finn ticket has been gaining traction lately. Following Donald Trump’s struggles after the release of a tape on which he makes lewd comments about women, they might win Mormon-heavy Utah, where McMullin is now statistically tied with both Trump and Clinton.
Their candidacy is a long shot -- they are not even on the ballot in all states -- but there technically is a way how it could work. If they manage to win one state and then both Trump and Clinton fail to get the 270 electoral votes necessary to become president, the House gets to decide the election.
More realistically, Finn sees their campaign as the start of a new conservative movement. “We are a glimmer of light in what many have seen as a sea of darkness in this election,” she told Glamour.
I’m not sure why Finn only seems to rate Q&As with this crowd. That’s what Glamour also did for her here.
Also, doesn’t Finn deserve a more nuanced interview than some softball questions from a news intern? About the Jewish angle, here’s what we get:
Finn is a proud Jewish woman and she says her faith helps her in guiding her decisions. Together with her running mate, a Mormon, she shares a deep appreciation of religious freedom for all. “Neither candidate on the stage at the debate Sunday night stood for religious freedom for all people (Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.),” she told the Forward. “When you don’t protect the religious freedoms of one group, you don’t stand for it at all.”
Her faith guides her? She says she's pro-life, but can someone dig into what she means by that? Jews in this country, other than the Orthodox, poll as overwhelmingly pro-choice. So, there must have been some personal cost in breaking from the pack.
Another piece the Forward ran on Finn is just as light on details, plus it’s an opinion piece. We can do better. There are several streams of Judaism. Is she Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist or something else? What synagogue does she attend? Does she keep the Sabbath? Who is her rabbi and what does he or she say about Finn?
This article in the National Review had more substance as did this Washington Post column although neither really tackled her religion. This Jerusalem Post piece is only a little better because it mentions her thoughts on anti-Semitism.
There’s not a thing about her in the Houston Chronicle either, which is odd considering she was born and raised just north of the city.
As I’ve looked about, I can’t say I’m exactly stunned by the depth of coverage out there. I don’t totally blame reporters for going light on the religion angle. When you look at Finn’s Linkedin profile, she lists arts and culture, economic empowerment, education, human rights, politics, science and technology as “causes Mindy cares about.” Faith is nowhere to be seen in that list. So if she's lighting Sabbath candles on Friday nights, she may not want to talk about it.
But reporters need to ask. After all, if Joe Lieberman’s (another vice presidential candidate) faith was written about (in that he kept the Jewish Sabbath for one thing) in some depth, someone needs to ask questions of hers. Then again, as we’ve written about here and here, Bernie Sanders made little of his Jewishness earlier this year. Maybe Finn is the same kind of “non-Jewish Jew.”
Whatever the case, inquiring minds want to know. The piece on her by the Jewish Telegraph Agency was pretty thin. Finn has to live somewhere close to a synagogue in DC. Which one is it?
Work your sources, people. Ask some questions. The truth is out there.