Behind the scenes during each election there is another race – for power, privilege and bragging rights by politicians and community leaders who do their best to influence votes in their respective communities for their favored candidates. It’s become something of a tradition for YWN’s political columnist to declare the winners and losers of this very inside game. Below is a list of winners & losers from this past Thursday’s Primary Election.
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Rabbi David Niederman
After the fall of Vito Lopez there were some who were questioning whether the head of the Zali social-service empire still has it. He clearly does. In a hard-fought race Rabbi Niederman delivered some 63% of the vote for the irrelevant post of district leader. Irrelevant, that is, to the rest of the world but very important to Neiderman who proves that in a post-Vito world he is still a force to be reckoned with.
Chris Olechowski, Niederman’s guy, is holding on to a thin lead over Lincoln Restler. Restler even spun the loss by saying the he won every area except for one – Rabbi Niederman’s. This victory and his control over Councilman Steven Levin means Neiderman lives on to see another year as a major political player.
Far Rockaway’s Jewish Community
This community got a twofer: their ineffectual Council Member moved on to higher office and as a result there will now be an open seat.
Quashing the speculation over who the community would support for NYC Council, now that Councilman James Sanders has defeated Senator Shirley Huntley, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has made it clear that he is uniting Far Rockaway’s Jewish community behind his protege and staffer – Pesach Osina. Sources tell us that Goldfeder himself wanted to run for the seat but promised county leaders he would not. The challenge of course is not whether Far Rockaway can win the council seat in an open non-partisan special March election, they can, but whether they can hold it in a September primary that would be required after the March special election.
Sephardic Community Federation
It’s not easy to win every race that you endorse in, but that’s exactly what the Sephardic Jewish community did. The united community went all out for Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in his race for re-election. Every Sephardic newspaper and magazine endorsed Cymbrowitz and the community mobilized a massive Get Out The Vote effort on Cymbrowitz’s behalf.
Insider say that while the community genuinely likes Cymbrowitz, they went all-out at the behest of Speaker Sheldon Silver, making their victory all that more important. If there was any question as to how important their support was, Cymbrowitz’s margin of victory was 244 votes. There’s no question that without Cymbrowitz’s Sephardic support Ben Askelrod would be the Assemblyman-elect.
Councilman David Greenfield
Maybe it’s because he works harder than anyone else in the community, maybe its because he delivers more than anyone else in the community, or maybe it’s because he’s very good at bringing together coalitions within the community. Whatever the reason, its clear that Greenfield has emerged as one of the most important Jewish political players in New York.
If there was any doubt that Greenfield was the man, that doubt was erased when less than 30 days ago Greenfield decided to support Shlomo Mostofsky agains Dov Hikind’s candidate, Charles Finkelstei,n for Civil Court Judge. In less than a month, Greenfield delivered a resounding victory for Mostofsky who won nearly 50% in a three-way race and beat his closest competitor by 17 points.
Even more impressive, Mostofsky won the Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of the Civil Court seat by a 4-1 margin against Hikind’s candidate. Leave it to Greenfield to not let the success get to his head. Greenfield actually endorsed Hikind in the Democratic Primary telling his supporters that Hikind was clearly a better choice than his opponent. Way to stay classy, Greenfield!
Sure, Dov won a resounding victory over his 20 year old opponent, Moshe Tischler. However, in the process he had to stoop to the level of his opponent’s banter and actually engage Tischler in bewildering conversation.
What’s worse, is that in the main fight that Dov had on Primary Day, for Civil Court Judge, his candidate lost by a landslide. Dov did everything in his power to help Civil Court candidate Charles Finkelstein including giving him air time on Hikind’s popular Saturday night show for weeks before the election. That Finkelstein came in last place was bad enough, that he lost the Orthodox Jewish areas by a 4-1 margin to Greenfield’s candidate was shocking.
Insiders tell us that we may be witnessing the twilight of Hikind’s political career. Hikind’s political power seems to be on the decline. In another recent example, Hikind spent the end of the last legislative session touting a piece of legislation that he and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein passed that would help Orthodox Jewish special-needs students. However, Hikind’s legislation went down in flames when Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to veto it. The message seemed unmistakable: Cuomo is not afraid of the once-powerful lawmaker.
Facing his second consecutive loss, Davidson, the Russian media mogul, has to be reassessing the influence of his political operation. He was unable to deliver the votes for his favored Assembly candidate Ben Akselrod just as how he couldn’t deliver the Russians for Lew Fidler in his March Senate race.
We’re told that at the largest Russian polling site, turnout was half of what was Davidson expected. The only consolation? Gregory can redeem himself next year. We’re told that Gregory’s newly minted district leader, Ari Kagan, is sure to run as the “Russian” candidate to succeed term-limited Council Member Mike Nelson in the New York City Council.
Councilman Steve Levin
So, Steve’s candidate for District Leader, Chris Olechowski, appears to have eked out a victory why should he be on a our loser list?
Here’s why: insiders tell us that Lincoln Restler offered many times to cut a deal where Steve Levin would support him for District Leader and Restler would support him for City Council. If you are going after the political beast you better cut it’s political head off. Steve took out Lincoln’s political eye but kept him very much alive to run against him next year for City Council. You can rest assured that Lincoln and his band of reformers will give Steve Levin the race of his life next year. And this time, he won’t have Vito Lopez to protect him.
Brooklyn & Queens County Leaders
He’s not yet sworn in to the job, but Frank Seddio is the presumed Brooklyn Democratic county leader. In his first test, however, he couldn’t deliver. Frank’s favored candidate for Civil Court Judge, Lara Genovesi, daughter of Frank’s famed mentor, was defeated by the “reformers” despite wrangling the endorsement of the New York Times. It remains to be seen whether Frank can turn his personal popularity into a coalition that brings “county” victories in the future.
Over in Queens, County Leader Joe Crowley saw some victories but also the loss of county’s preferred candidate to replace Rory Lancman in the Assembly. In a major upset, Nily Rozic handily beat county-backed Jerry Iannece. Another county stalwart, Senator Shirley Huntley, went down in flames to a perennial thorn in county’s side – Councilman James Sanders. The moral of these stories is that it’s good to be leader, but the days of county leaders simply anointing their victorious candidate are gone.
These kids should finish school and try to find real employment. Neither one of them could even break 20% in Thursday’s primary despite running very negative races against their respective opponents – Simcha Felder and Dov Hikind.
Once supposes that the attention may have helped Moshe and Avi Tischler, if their real bid was to gain publicity to find marriage partners as critics told the NY Daily News months ago.
Hey, here’s an idea for a shidduch: there’s another nice Jewish kid running for office that has no shot of winning – Mindy Meyer anyone?
(Dov Gordon – YWN)
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