Backroom Deals: Felder’s Risk, Five Towns Suffers & Yassky for Comptroller?


Felder Takes Big Risk by Caucusing with Republicans Early

Simcha Felder will either be a political genius or a political loser when all the votes are counted in two upstate State Senate races. The Democratic State-Senator elect made big news last week when he decided to caucus with the Republican party. As a result, the Republicans now have 31 out of 63 seats in the New York State Senate. They need 32 to control the chamber. If the Democrats hold on to their lead in the two upstate Senate races that are currently being re-counted, they will have 32 seats and the Republicans will have 31 meaning that Felder will have caucused with the wrong side.

The only saving grace? Even if the Democrats win those two seats, it is still possible that some Democrats, namely the four members of the Independent Democratic Caucus will join the Republicans. If that happens, then Felder will have made the smart move by aligning early with the Republicans in exchange for political promises. Sources tell us that in return for aligning with the Republicans, Felder has a commitment that he will chair a major committee, receive more funding for his office and more funding for his community. Those same sources say that Felder did not receive a commitment for the Republicans on any specific legislation that would benefit tuition paying parents.

Pesach Osina Running for City Council

Pesach Osina, a senior aide to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, has told several of his close associates that he will soon announce a run for the City Council seat to replace Councilman James Sanders who has won a seat in the New York State Senate. This column was the first to report that Osina is a likely candidate for the seat several months ago. Goldfeder released a statement last month declaring his support of Osina immediately after this column was published.

Osina has become the face of the relief efforts in Far Rockaway and by all accounts was one of the hardest working people dealing with the post-Sandy recover in Far Rockaway. Osina will face several minority candidates bolstering his odds of winning the seat in a likely March 2013 special election. Of course, Osina will have to run again in September. As a result, he may very well win but only be able to hold onto the seat for eight months.

David Yassky For Comptroller?

Informed sources are telling us that current TLC Chair and former Councilman David Yassky is thinking of running for comptroller. Yassky ran for comptroller in 2009 and ended up in a runoff with John Liu which Yassky lost. This would mean that as many as three Jewish candidates would be running for comptroller in 2013 – Yassky, Councilman Dan Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Scott Srtinger.

Insiders say that this could provide an opening for Council Finance Chairman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. who is mulling jumping into the race. “All three of these Jewish candidate are liberals that would be vying for the Manhattan and liberal Jewish vote in New York City. This can only help Recchia run as the ‘outer-borough’ moderate and could very well provide his path for victory.”

Five-Towns Suffers Because of Political Missteps

While Far Rockaway was getting all the attention and focus of the recovery efforts, their neighbor to the North, the Five Towns of Long Island was virtually ignored after Sandy. On some blocks, the electricity is still out. Insiders say that political missteps by key community leaders including Dr. Asher Mansdorf, the President of the local school board shut out the community from political access needed to make it a priority during the storm.

“Shelly Silver begged Mansdorf and other key leaders to support Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg for re-election to the Assembly. He was furious when Mansdorf not only refused, but put up his own candidate Republican David Sussman,” said one insider. Sussman went on to win big in the Five Towns but lose big everywhere else resulting in Weisenberg’s re-election. As a result, the community leaders had nowhere to turn when they needed help. Apparently, local legislator Howard Koppell pulled a Hikind and was in Florida while the storm hit. Our sources now tell us that a young group of askanim are thinking of forming a new political club to breakaway from Mansdorf and the establishment who they believe have not guided the Five Towns well in recent elections.

Dov Gordon is a political maven with unrivaled sources in the New York political world. This is a small selection of his exclusive insider political opinion & analysis column published in Yeshiva World News print edition every Friday. Have a tip for Dov? Email him at As you can see from his column, he guarantees all his sources confidentiality. Please note, this column is an opinion piece. The views reflected here are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YWN.

(YWn Desk – NYC)


  1. Felder isn’t so dumb. If he waited until he knew which side won, his changing sides would be opportunistic. Since he changed when the outcome was in doubt, it appears to be for idealistic reasons. Even if he is in opposition, he’ll have real clout when the Republicans eventually do win. He appears to be quite young, and is probably looking for the future. Given the direction the parties are moving, it is obvious that in the long run, the frum community will have to switch to the Republicans (given that support for abortion and sexual “freedom” is a litmus test for being a Democrat). Since we are doomed to eventually become Republicans, better to be the “trail blazer”. In cruder terms, better to make the choice for love rather than money.

  2. Five-Towns Suffers Because of Political Missteps?

    Besides being factually incorrect,this “scoop” doesn’t even make sense. Election day was almost two weeks after the hurricane, and the 5 Towns got the same recovery assistance as everyone else, and even got power restored before Far Rockaway. While Assemblyman Weisenberg’s attention may have been elsewhere (either because his hometown Long Beach required more attention than the 5 towns, or because he wouldn’t know where the 5 Towns are on a map), Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (a great friend of the 5 Towns) was actively working to bring services to the community.

  3. Speaking of not knowing where the 5 Towns are, apparently Dov Gordon doesn’t. They’re east of Far Rockaway, not north of it.

    Parts of the 5 Towns got power restored before anybody got it back in FR. There may be a few blocks without power in the 5 Towns, but there are vast areas without power in the Rockaways. It’s probably a function of how difficult the job is rather than political clout — after all, LIPA seems to have ignored politicians from Cuomo on down.

  4. Rabbi Heshie Billet Says:

    Dr. Asher Mansdorf is maligned by this articles false allegations. Asher worked 24/7 for the entire Jewish and non Jewish community. It was because of Asher’s heroic efforts to enlist local politicians and arouse support that we were helped. Asher personally did so much including spending his own money to help the greater communiy.

    Assemblyman Harvey Wiesenberg was on “vacation”. He did not surface by cell phone or email until the 8th or 9th day of the storm when we no longer needed him. He apparently was in Long Beach. I do not know what he did there. They certainly needed help. No one expected him to be in multiple places at once. Had he just notified other constituents that his office was available to help and who and how to contact, it would have sufficed. The reason he did so poorly in the Five Towns on Election Day is because he did not represent us at all when we needed him most.

    I find it inconceivable that our entire community was punished by Albany politicians because David Sussman ran against Mr. Wiesenberg. I thought this is a democracy with at two party system.

    Rabbi Heshie Billet
    Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere

  5. Harvey Weisenberg has been ignoring the Five Towns for years. That he did nothing during Sandy was business as usual for him. It had nothing to do with either David Sussman’s candidacy, or Asher Mansdorf’s activity.