Michael Jackson's friend and spiritual adviser, America's Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, announced a bid for Congress Wednesday, pledging to be a values voice in Washington.
Boteach, running as a Republican in New Jersey, is as close to a celebrity as a rabbi can get. He has been a talk show maven, a public speaker and prolific author of books on relationships and family life. He also had a reality television show on TLC called, Shalom in the Home, where he dispensed advice to struggling families.
The rabbi is perhaps most known for being an associate of the late Jackson, whom he befriended in the 1990s. The two did charitable work together and Jackson let Boteach record a series of interviews that were eventually released after the singer's death in 2009. A 2001 Slate profile called Boteach a Jewish missionary in the A-list position.
In Congress, Boteach said he wants to be known for saving the institution of marriage, but not from same-sex couples. To lower the heterosexual divorce rate, Boteach would make marriage counseling tax-deductible.
It is time to expand the values conversation and agenda, and once again make them the center of our country, he said in his announcement. Let's begin with saving the institution of marriage by making family a priority again.
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This week, Boteach wrote that the values debate has been hijacked by gay marriage and abortion, and now contraception.
While we obsess over gay marriage, he wrote for the Huffington Post, heterosexual marriage has gone off a cliff.
Boteach is running in the newly drawn, Democratic-leaning 9th District of northern New Jersey, where two incumbent Democrats, Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, are being forced into a primary against each other.
The rabbi's bid follows an unsuccessful campaign in a neighboring district from another Jewish leader-turned-author and public speaker Dennis Shulman, a Democrat better known known as the blind rabbi.