Given the vagaries of gerrymandering, somewhere over the years there might have been congressional candidates from separate districts who lived on the same street.
It's unlikely, though, that the two candidates also belonged to the same Orthodox synagogue, and ran a campaign platform originating with Torah lessons they delivered at shul.
But, that is just what is happening in Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
The candidates are Jeff Stein and Moshe Starkman. They live on opposite sides of the congressional district dividing line of Arctic Avenue in Rockville, and they are the Republican candidates for U.S. Congress in Maryland's 8th and 4th Districts, respectively, facing Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Albert Wynn (D).
They're each serving as the other's campaign managers and are willing to admit with a little prodding that they are big underdogs in their heavily Democratic districts.
But they also are bringing a different style and sensibility to the political discourse, creating campaigns that eschew bullet points and sound bites for techniques based on the tradition of Jewish text study.
Stein's campaign literature and the front page of his Web don't include the typical photos of the candidate shaking hands or kissing babies. The only pictures are of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and other founding fathers, former presidents and Supreme Court justices, accompanied by quotes on various issues such as government regulation, property rights and education.
At an interview in his home, where hundreds of Jewish texts fill a bookcase, the 28-year-old Starkman explained that his and Stein's campaign theme came from a project the two developed to demonstrate the similarities between "traditional Jewish thought and values and traditional U.S. principles of good government and liberty" combining his background in Jewish subjects and attorney Stein's knowledge of early constitutional law.
The undertaking was, in part, an effort to demonstrate that Jews "need to be active and involved in [wider] community affairs" and not be as insular as some tend to be in the Orthodox community, Stein, 31, said.
They gave a couple of Torah lessons at their synagogue, Beth Joshua Congregation one on the protection of family, the other on the integration of G-d and state. In the spring, unimpressed with the congressional candidates in their districts, they decided to convert their project into a political platform titled "Preserving America."
Their method of presenting quotes on various big issues such as Abraham Lincoln on the "American Dream" or Theodore Roosevelt on "national virtue" is inspired by the Jewish tradition of learning and study, Stein explained, in which people are presented with the views of authorities and can debate and argue over how to apply those authorities to the present day.
While their method bucks the general belief that Americans have short attention spans, Stein said they've received a lot of positive feedback on their fliers because the concept is "different, it's interesting."
And it worked in the September Republican primary, when Stein knocked off the candidate with the backing of the Republican establishment, Daniel Zubairi, by a fairly wide 45-32 percent margin.
Starkman ran unopposed in the 4th District, but seems to talk much more about his friend's candidacy than his own. That's because he still considers himself a student of Stein's and his political principles.
"I am ... the young Jedi here, trying to learn my craft," he said, referring to the knights of Star Wars.
Their platform, neighborhood and synagogue membership are only a few of the things the two have in common. They both have three children. And the pair has somewhat similar backgrounds.
Both grew up in New Jersey, Starkman in East Windsor's Twin Rivers and Stein in New Brunswick. And each is a ba'al teshuvah, becoming religiously observant later in life after being raised in a more secular Jewish environment.
Starkman, a senior manager of the Web design and development firm Intersoft Corporation, attended Jewish day school as a child, explaining that his mother after divorcing his Catholic father when Starkman was a toddler "felt she needed help" and guidance raising her two kids and felt a Jewish education would be of assistance. By his middle school years, he asked his mother to send him to public school.
With his public school friends getting involved in areas he didn't like, such as drugs and drinking, and his retreat to video games, his mother signed him up for the Orthodox youth group National Conference of Synagogue Youth.
He returned home from a summer NCSY trip to Israel, wanting to keep kosher and observe the Sabbath to which his mother replied, "Better that than drugs."
Starkman moved to Montgomery County eight years ago, helped found the then-fledgling Aspen Hill Jewish community about six years ago. For the first four years, he served as "community coordinator" working on "recruiting and growing" the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood around the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, a project spearheaded by developer Dennis Berman.
Stein's tale of transformation to Jewish observance is simpler he "met a nice girl."
Raised attending a Conservative synagogue, he wasn't involved in the Jewish community while attending the University of Kentucky and then the University of Missouri's law school. But that all changed after meeting his wife, Dasha. She kept kosher and observed the Sabbath, so when they got married, he started doing the same.
"It wasn't such a major lifestyle change," Stein, a Chevy Chase attorney, said, noting that instead of eating a hamburger and fries at Wendy's, his wife now makes him the same.
The two candidates say their religious practice lost them the help of some political professionals and strategists for their campaign. When they explained that they would not campaign on Saturdays, said Starkman, they were told, "You're not real, Saturday is campaign day."
But Starkman said they have no regrets. Keeping Sabbath "put us in the good graces of the Lord creator," he said, laughing, then noting more seriously that if they violated the principle of the Sabbath, voters might wonder "are we going to violate other principles."
They emphasize that they don't expect anyone to vote for them just because they are Jewish.
One Jewish leader who has become acquainted with them is Rabbi Herzel Kranz of the Silver Spring Jewish Center, who termed the idea of two Orthodox Jews running in adjacent districts "pretty unique."
He said the duo was "kind of idealistic, but you need that," and praised them for being willing to step up to the plate and run against favored incumbents.
Beating those incumbents is a daunting task, especially considering Stein says he has raised $12,000-15,000, compared with Van Hollen's more than $1.5 million. While he did write a response to Van Hollen's controversial letter over the summer criticizing Israeli military actions in Lebanon and the U.S. response to them, he said he "didn't want to demagogue" the issue or give the letter too much attention because it could undermine the Jewish state and give ammunition to Israel critics.
But he acknowledged that the letter could give some a reason to look at him as an alternative.
Starkman is pinning his hopes on Wynn's slim margin of victory in the September primary despite being a seven-term incumbent.
But even if they do go down to defeat, Starkman said the campaign has strengthened the bond between him and Stein.
"It takes our friendship ... to a new level of purpose," he said, trying to "make things better for hundreds of thousands of people."