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Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Jewish Vote 2013 #1 - How The Mayoral Candidates Are CourtingOrthodox Jewish Voters

(By Jacob Kornbluh). Over the past two decades, since 1993, New York City’s Jews have broken with their traditional Democratic voting pattern,  to back Republican mayoral candidates. Even in 2001, Mike Bloomberg, Giuliani’s successor roughly split the Jewish vote against fellow Jewish candidate Mark Green, not to mention his decisive victories in 2005 and 2009.

This year, for the first time there's no Jewish candidate running for mayor, nor is there any hope of a genuine Republican to uphold the power in Gracie mansion. All of the candidates running for mayor, with an exception to Rev. Erick Salgado who's running as a conservative Democrat, are either progressive,  liberal or social liberal at the very least. The 'Jewish Vote' which makes up 25% of the electorate, according to political consultant Jerry Skurnik from Prime New York, is all up for grabs.

Jews outside Manhattan could constitute one-sixth of primary voters, according to demographers, and of that group, maybe 30 percent are from the fast-growing Orthodox population, mostly in Brooklyn., writes the NYTimes

According to the latest Marist poll, which is the only indication of where we hold in 2013, Jewish registered voters make up 15 percent of the overall registered voters in NYC. In party affiliation - Jews make up 16%  of the electorate among registered Democratic voters and 21% among Republicans.

More so, the Orthodox Jewish population has increased over the past decade from 33 to 40% of the 1.1 Million Jews in New York City, according to the latest 2012 findings. This voting bloc could serve as a tipping force for either of the Democratic mayoral candidates in the primaries as the battle for 2nd place in a runoff primary is highly contested as of now.Not to mention that it could serve as a sprinkle vote to stymie the ability of Christine Quinn to garner 40% of the primary vote, the necessary threshold in order to avoid a runoff. At the same time, in a low turnout for the Republican primaries, the margin between Lhota and Catsimatidis could be a minimal handful of votes, which increases the level of Jewish influence, the few that are registered as Republicans, to decide the fate of the vote.

"I believe that you will see very high Orthodox Jewish turnout in the 2013 Democratic primary," Councilman David Greenfield told Colin Campbell in 2012. "The community also recognizes that if it’s a tight race, the seven or eight percentage points that the Orthodox Jewish vote makes up in a primary could definitely make the difference.”

We may be expecting additional polling data this month for Siena and Marist, but as of now according to the Feb. Marist poll, 40% of Jewish democratic voters support Christine Quinn, 18% Bill de Blasio, 13% Bill Thompson and 5% John Liu. On the other side of the aisle, 55% of overall Republican voters remain undecided on who to support, with an additional 9% up for grabs from those who supported Carrion, Allon and Bernard.

Which brought NYC Elects to inquire what the mayoral candidates are doing to court the Jewish votes, especially the Orthodox Jewish vote.

Per our inquiry, only five campaign provided us with information who their appointed Jewish Liaisons are. 

Bill de Blasio's Jewish right hand is Pinny Ringel, who serves as the Public advocate's liaison to the Jewish community, and is an unpaid volunteer for the campaign. Avi Fink, a former aide to Rep. Weiner, is a deputy chief of staff in the Public Advocate's office, and is also a volunteer on the campaign, helping him with Jewish outreach.

In February, Mr. de Blasio was introduced as “the next mayor of New York City” at the Yeshiva Machzikei Hadas of Belz annual dinner. One of the belzer community's activists, Mr. Eliezer Igel, said, “Don’t forget your own communities, which are all standing behind you.”

Remembering Mayor Ed Koch, Mr. Igel expressed his confidence in de Blasio filling that vacuum. “People in this community will not forget 32 years ago when our community (Belz) was threatened to a certain extent. At the time, Ed Koch went way beyond his call of duty to protect our community. And we did not forget 32 years later,” he said.“So, I want you to know,” Mr. Igel continued, “this community is growing, and we do not forget the people that stand behind us and support us. So in the name of this community, we bless you that you should continue being Advocate of New York City, but in the position of mayor, so that we will all be able to say., ‘Bill de Blasio, the great mayor of New York City.” Mr Igel concluded to enormous applause.

Bill Thompson hired Jonathan Schenker, who served as former Congressman Bob Turner's liaison until January 2013. Schenker was very shy to comment on his role in the campaign in detail. However, Mr. Thompson  is seen at every Jewish occasion accompanied by Schenker.

"One thing," Mr. Thompson told Jewish leaders last month, "I am not going to be the mayor who can't find his way to Borough Park, or to Flatbush, or to Crown Heights or to Williamsburg. You will be able to find me I know that. I know how to get there. I don't need a driver to get there."

John Catsimatidis recently appointed political operative Yoel Lefkowitz as his campaign's director for Jewish outreach. Mr. Catsimatidis was the first candidate to spend a nice amount for ads in the Orthodox papers for purim.

In an interview with NYC Elects, Mr. Catsimatidis claimed he is closer to the Jewish community than any candidate running. "I am on rabbi Schneider's board for the last 25 years. I have lit the menorah for Rabbi Botnick on 59th street for the last 25 years. I'm the closest person, running, to the Jewish Community," he argued.

Sal Albanese, who's considered a long shot, does not have a representative in the Jewish community, but in an interview with NYC Elects he vowed to campaign heavily in the Brooklyn Jewish community. "I plan to compete heavily in the Jewish community too," he said. "The things that we are saying will resonate well among Jewish voters."

Mr. Albanese "would love to" organize a campaign rally on 13th  in Borough Park, just like Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg did. "I'm gonna do it. I am going to campaign in Borough park aggressively," he said.

Mr. Albanese said he recently met with councilman David Greenfield (who he thoroughly admires for his twitter verse interaction) to discuss the recycling issue in Boro Park and consider a 2 day service. He also promised to move the sanitation garbage pick up from Saturday to a weekday. "I would accomodate with the religious needs, and also address the tonnage of recycling in a growing thriving community like in Borough Park/Flatbush."

Joe Lhota's campaign has yet to respond to our numerous requests, but is known to have hired Michael Fragin, a known political consultant and the host of the "Spin Class" radio show (a must listen for every political junkie or those interested in the news of the day), as a consultant on the campaign without a specific title or position.

In response to a question at a recent Brooklyn Republican event, Mr. Lhota dismissed the notion of appointing cultural liaisons, yet promised to appoint liaisons for every borough in the city. "I have a different approach," he said  "We need to treat all New Yorkers the same. I will go to each and every one of the communities, but I don't want to create a situation where we blow up the size of government.. You know what, We are all New Yorkers. We are all Americans."

Christine Quinn's campaign, has yet to respond. However, we were told by confident that this is an issue  that's still too early to discuss.

Quinn's last visit to the Jewish community was at a special Tu B'Shvat seder organized by Ezra  Friedlander in their home in the heart of Borough Park. "Quinn was warmly welcomed this past Sunday by a small but highly influential group of Orthodox and Hasidic movers and shakers," reported VINNews. Hardly to see, though, any of the attendees, who most probably came out of respect to the Speaker or Ezra, that would actually commit to support her candidacy.

Earlier on when Former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Quinn for mayor, Political pundits told The Five Towns  that the endorsement may help Quinn among Orthodox Jewish voters. But Koch is up in heaven, and so has his endorsement evaporated.

For a candidate that as of now has managed to garner 40% of the jewish vote, her support seems noticeable. It may be hidden in the bathrooms of Borough park, but as of now, she hasn't shown any indication of going around to collect 'em. 

John Liu has Pinny Hikind as his director of Public Affairs. Mr. Liu, despite his overdriven schedule, hasn't missed any Jewish event in the years he's been in office, some Jewish leaders note.

Erick Salgado, the latest newcomer and a considered long shot, has Joseph Hayon serving as his Orthodox Jewish advocate. Gregory Davidzon, an influential Russian-Jewish media mogul and power broker, is serving as campaign manager

Hayon, who has run twice for Assembly on the Republican line and was president of the Brooklyn Tea party, explained his decision to back the Conservative Democrat over the current Republican candidates for mayor. “Not one Republican candidate for mayor has reached out to the Orthodox community about the city’s attempt to regulate the religious practice of circumcision (he noted that even some of the more liberal Democratic candidates for mayor had done so)," Hayon told The Brooklyn Independent GOP Fountainhead.  "And the same can be said about several other items of special moral and social concern to orthodox voters.”

Mr. Salgado also had an extensive profile in the Queens Jewish Link Passover edition.

In our next series we will talk to community leaders, operatives and people on the street about the mayoral race, their preferences and their grades of how the candidates are faring in courting their vote.

George McDonald's campaign has not yet provided us with any information as of now. 


  1. Does George McDonald even have a website?

  2. Hi. I have been speaking with many in the Orthodox and Satmar community via a regular twitter hour most weeks. Tweet your questions to @ceceilia . I have quite a few Jewish team members including an excellent Accountant who is a Rabbi and lives on the LES, Jonathan Medows, . I am planning a future fundraiser catered by Ben's Kosher Deli. I have one Jewish political representative to our Campaign Team in particular, Aron Spielman, and am interested in several others. I also recruited some people in Israel who are returning to NY this summer from internships websites.

  3. His website is and my website is

  4. Yes George Mcdonald appears to be a good sort for the city.