That didn’t take long. Less than 72 hours after Senator Carl Kruger resigned in disgrace due to a corruption scandal, the race to replace him seems set. Under New York State rules political parties get to choose who will run on their respective lines in a special election that is expected to take place within the next three months. Sources say that Councilman Lew Fidler is the likely Democratic candidate and Russian immigrant David Storobin is the likely Republican.
Councilman Fidler, who has spent the past ten years as a New York City Councilman appears to have the edge in this race due to his deep relationships not only in his council district which overlaps significantly with the senate district, but in the broader Orthodox Jewish community, as well. While Fidler himself is not Orthodox, he is a self-described committed Jew who has consistently fought on behalf of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Fidler first came on the Jewish political scene as a volunteer attorney who helped the Lubavitch leadership in Crown Heights deal with the aftermath of the 1991 Crown Heights riots and tragic murder of Yankel Rosenbaum. Since then, by Filder’s own account, he has worked hard for Brooklyn’s frum community including securing $15 million in government funding for groups as diverse as Hatzolah, COJO of Flatbush and the JCC of Boro Park.
While David Storobin is the vice-chair of the Brooklyn Republican party, he appears little known outside of the Russian community. A prominent criminal defense attorney, his criminal law practice which includes the successful defense of alleged murderers and robbers may come back to haunt him in the socially conservative district.
Republicans remain optimistic, however, due to the recent victory of Bob Turner for Congress. Insiders explain that the dynamics of this local race for senate are quite different from the national race for congress and instead point to four key leaders whose support of either candidate could shape this compressed race. Here’s a quick sketch of those leaders and who they are likely to support.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind – While traditionally Hikind waits until the very last minute to make an endorsement in political races, thereby diminishing his ability to move votes, insiders say that Hikind is likely to be an early endorser of Councilman Lew Fidler. According to several sources, Hikind expects Fidler to easily win the race and has already committed to endorsing Fidler. Some say that Hikind, who regularly endorses Republicans, is also looking to support Fidler to bone up his credentials with Hikind’s own Democratic party in advance of his 2012 re-election.
Councilman David Greenfield – The popular Borough Park & Midwood Councilman seems to prefer to focus on his government duties and has avoided making endorsements in the nearly two years since he has been elected to office. However, insiders say that Greenfield has been very impressed with Fidler’s commitment to Greenfield’s signature issue – increasing funding for yeshivas and providing relief for tuition-paying parents. Media accounts demonstrate that Greenfield and Fidler have regularly worked together in the Council to secure funds for Jewish organizations and local yeshivas. The two also teamed up to successfully restore vouchers for yeshiva parents in this year’s city budget.
Radio Mogul Gregory Davidson – Those in the know report that Mr. Davidson is upset with the Republican party’s refusal to create a new Russian-American district for New York State Senate during the current redistricting process. As a result, Davidson, who played a key role in electing Republican Bob Turner to Congress, is openly mulling supporting Fidler. Insiders believe, however, that ultimately Davidson won’t want to burn his close relationship with Senator Marty Golden and his friends in the Republican Party. Plus it would look weird for the Russian radio mogul to abandon a fellow Russian.
Deputy Comptroller Simcha Felder – The wildcard. While the media has reported that Felder has been asked by the Republican party to run for this senate seat, the reality is that Felder doesn’t even live in the current senate district. What’s more, Felder has recently consolidated his power in the NYC Comptroller’s office by recently moving his assistant Ari Hoffnung into a Deputy Comptroller position. Felder, a well-known figure in the Orthodox community, could surely move votes where he to endorse a candidate in the race.
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(Dov Gordon – YWN)