By now, we know who won and lost 99% of the races in New York yesterday. However, behind the scenes during each election year there is another race – for power, privilege and bragging rights by Jewish politicians and community leaders who do their best to move votes in their respective communities for their favored candidates. While the rest of the world believes in the mythical Jewish bloc vote, we at Jewish Politics know better. There is no one Jewish constituency but rather many competing factions. The list below examines for the first time ever the winners and losers of this very inside game.
Village of Kiryas Joel
Even former President Bill Clinton called the village to solicit their support for his preferred Congressional candidate. It didn’t help. The sophisticated village decided to endorse Republican Candidate for Congress Nan Hayworth, Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Senator Bill Larkin. All of their candidates won big victories inside and outside of KJ.
Bottom Line: Trifecta of victories keeps KJ as top Chasidic power player.
Brooklyn’s Sephardic Community
Proving that they are one of the few remaining bloc votes in Brooklyn, the Sephardic community won an astounding 80% for Dan Donovan in their precincts. Insiders say that the Sephardim chose this race to demonstrate that they can move votes. They succeeded: 80/20 is a higher margin than any other Jewish group managed to secure for their endorsed candidate in New York City.
Bottom Line: Donovan may have lost but the Sephardim won big.
Senator Eric Schneiderman
With the diminishment of Shelly Silver, Schneiderman is now the big Jew on the Albany campus. As Spitzer and Cuomo both proved, the job of Attorney General means that the world is now Schneiderman’s oyster (he doesn’t keep kosher, so we felt the analogy apt). What he will run for next is anyone’s guess. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if he challenges fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for US Senate in 2012.
Bottom Line: Schneiderman is the rising liberal star of New York’s Democratic Party.
Boro Park’s Chasidic Community
It took some time, but the Chasidic community of Boro Park finally came together to agree on one-thing: Dan Donovan for District Attorney. Even though Donovan lost the state-wide race, he swept Boro Park 70/30, proving that if they stick together (an admittedly tough task) the disparate Chasidic communities of Boro Park can do anything.
Bottom Line: Chasidim still have juice in Boro Park.
This first time candidate got outspent 100-1 and managed to win 43% of the vote against ten-year incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz. Count that as a victory in our book. Mr. Hayon has now earned the right to the Jewish community’s support in another challenge to Steve Cymbrowitz in two years.
Bottom Line: Next time, with a little more money, experience and institutional support Hayon will likely beat Cymbrowitz.
This mayor wannabe, may want to shore up the votes in his own district. It’s tough to convince millions of New Yorkers to vote for you when you can’t win big in your own ‘hood. Weiner had to pull out all the stops to win this race but despite having a former President and millions of dollars on his side, he failed to break 60% in this moderate district.
Bottom line: Weiner should pay less attention to MSNBC and more attention to MIDWOOD.
His two most important state-wide candidates Dan Donovan & Harry Wilson both suffered defeats at the polls. Coming after his smallish victory over Billy Thompson last year, this portends the end of an era for New York’s once most powerful and richest man.
Bottom Line: You can’t run for president if you can’t win in your own backyard.
Agudath Israel of America
Once the most powerful Jewish group in America, Agudath Israel has lost its influence in the only area that really matters to politicians: moving votes. Sure, Agudath Israel can bring all the State’s politicians into a room the Sunday before Election Day, but politicians are increasingly realizing that Agudath Israel can’t bring actual voters to the polls on Election Day itself. In fact, Agudath Israel had to back-track on its lay leaders’ initial endorsement of Senator Eric Schneiderman when they realized that most Jewish groups who actually move votes were supporting Donovan.
Bottom Line: Individual Jewish communities are deciding on their own who to support and don’t look to Agudath Israel for guidance any more.
For all his money, power and fame, Chuck won only a few more votes than his freshman colleague Kirsten Gillibrand. Never mind bragging rights, Chuck’s best chance at being the first Jewish majority leader seemed to fade yesterday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid beat back a spirited challenge from a Tea Party candidate in Nevada.
Bottom Line: Schumer helped his close friend Reid win re-election, but ironically that may have cost him his dream of running the US Senate.
Hikind has a unique ability to endorse winning candidates who then go on to lose his district. For example, Hikind supported fellow Democrat Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman won the race, but lost 3-1 in his district. This ability seems to apply to Republicans, as well. Hikind endorsed successful congressional candidate Mike Grimm. However, Grimm lost the Jewish vote to Democrat Mike McMahon. Worst of all, this seems to apply to Hikind himself. Yesterday, Hikind ran against a no-name Republican who spent only $400 yet managed to garner nearly 40% of the vote. To put this in context, Hikind’s Democratic neighbor, Alec Brook-Krasny, won 85% of his vote in a comparable race.
Bottom line: Unless Hikind figures out how to move votes fast, he will be vulnerable to a challenge from a young Chasidic Jew in 2012.
Jewish Politics is an opinion column by veteran political strategist Daniel Miller. The views expressed here are Mr. Miller’s and are not necessarily those of Yeshiva World News.