Dispatch: Orthodox 'inevitability' pushback lifted Storobin

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:30 AM

Yesterday, in the midst of all the SD-27 election discussion, I emailed the Orthodox Pundit to get his sense of what had happened. The discussion led to a post on his website today that argues Storobin's near-win--a victory in many ways, even if he ends up the loser after paper ballots are counted next week--is the continuation of a voting pattern that's seen the Orthodox Jewish community resist the conventional wisdom of the front-runner.

"[M]ore than anything, the last few elections showed that there is a strong anti-establishment mood in the Orthodox community. There is an insurgent segment that hates the inevitability mantle created by politicians around their candidates," OP writes.

The pattern, according to OP, started back in the 2009 city council contest between Brad Lander and John Heyer:

Dov Hikind – and if I recall correctly Agudah leaders -- supported Lander, but a group of activists, notably Shia Ostereicher from Belz, supported Heyer, pointing to his traditional marriage stances. Lander is today our councilman and Heyer ended third in the district overall. Still in [another] staggering defeat for Hikind and Agudah, Heyer won Borough Park 74-13 against Lander.

Ostereicher and company were seen as the new kingmakers in town, and some started to count Hikind’s days, believing [he was] losing out to the Hasidim who long ago overran the Hikind types in the Borough Park.
Shortly afterwards a special election for Simcha Felder’s seat came up. Hikind decided to align with the new Hasidic powers, and they settled on Joe Lazar as their candidate. Ostereicher worked hard for him, even pushing out others from the race[.] Hikind, Lander and Heyer, Agudah leaders and a ‘who is who’ list of the community also banded together to back Joe Lazar, creating an environment of inevitability. Result: David Greenfield, the insurgent, went on to a landslide in the district, and even the Hasidic BP split their vote almost evenly.
In the current election, Councilman David Greenfield was trying his magic, cloaking Fidler with the inevitability mantle, while Storobin didn’t have too many Orthodox Jewish political leaders publicly supporting him. Fidler also had the support of the highly celebrated [Russian kingmater], Gregory Davidzon, whose star rose dramatically thanks to the Turner upset.
I, for one, sensed an atmosphere a lot like the lead-up to the Greenfield-Lazar race, but thought that Greenfield had the advantage of the Bloomberg machine and that he led a more sophisticated targeted campaign than Storobin’s. For these reasons, I still felt that Fidler will win the seat and the establishment will win for a change.

OP's time line and thesis were mentioned in more than one conversation I had yesterday. If OP and others sense of things is correct, this should be good news for Democrats. At the very least, it will allow voters--not the county organization--to decide on a candidate. OP sketches out what could be the election strategy for both parties heading into this year's elections.

"My sense is that there is an active Orthodox electorate that hates to be told what to do and that the outcome is pre-determined," OP writes. "They rather like beaten down candidates who fight for their votes – it doesn’t matter if it’s with substance or with dirty attacks, as long they don’t come with high-profile names directing to them how to vote. I’d advise the next candidate to take a more humble approach."


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Comments [7]


Alec Brook Krasny: «Storobin’s victory is a problem for the Republican party»:

Mar. 27 2012 06:40 PM

March 20 Elections Statistics: Russian-Americans Weren’t The Ones Who Helped David Storobin:

Mar. 27 2012 06:40 PM

yet they are told what to do and they do it..... wether it's this guy or that guy, doesn't really matter.

I some how doubt that they all educated them selves..
they are told what to do and they do it...

Bribe the leadership and the sheep will follow...

Mar. 27 2012 05:29 PM

 Mr. Orthodox Pundit has completely misrepresented this race.  The trend is far more than simply a spirit of contrarianism in the Orthodox electorate.  The passage of "marriage equality" signaled once and for all that the political leadership of this state has chosen to align itself  unequivocably against our most precious Torah values.  What's more, for Mr. Fidler and his supporters chose to brush away these concerns pointing to his staunch monetary support of Jewish institutions,fueled outrage and disgust. 

Mr. OP says that "Storobin didn’t have too many Orthodox Jewish political leaders publicly supporting him."  First and foremost to religious Jews our "Gedolim," the greatest recognized Torah scholars of the generation, are our true leaders, due to their monumental grasp of Torah knowledge and shining example of ethical refinement. A virtual who's who roster of over 50 Rabbis, including many Gedolim, signed a blistering indictment of Mr. Fidler's votes in favor of measures that promoted same-sex marriage on the City Council (such as, posting a sign in the Clerk's office telling people where they can get same sex marriages). The scope of the ruling was equally groundbreaking, stretching far across the spectrum of Orthodox communities, from the Litvish Chassidish Sephardic and Modern Orthodox communities.

Mar. 23 2012 10:08 PM

I disagree with OP's analysis. It isn't quite adequate to explain away such a momentous shift. I believe he Orthodox rejected Fidler because the Democrats are no longer delivering the social welfare benefits that they used to in earlier decades. The overt reason was Fidler's support for gay rights. Read my article at

Mar. 23 2012 05:51 AM

I think the OP has it wrong. He's seeing the forest for the tree. The outcome in the Weprin debacle was two-fold - he was a candidate who was lackadaisical and thought he had it "in the bag" and, secondly, he's an orthodox Assemblymember who passionately vocalized support for the same-sex marriage bill.

The issue in this current election is that MANY if not all Orthodox voters who were NOT republican and voting so, are under an impression that Mr. Storobin - an undeserving and inexperienced candidate - would be able to somehow repeal the marriage law. Add to that, the lies painted by his campaign staff and passed on to the Rabbis that Lew Fidler VOTED for gay marriage.

All that needs to happen now is for the Dems to educate the religious leaders as to the viability of a repeal, and demonstrate that they too can secure money and sustain a healthy relationship with the Orthodox lobby front, to reclaim the trust of the community.

Mar. 22 2012 05:19 PM
Larry Littlefield

“My sense is that there is an active Orthodox electorate that hates to be told what to do and that the outcome is pre-determined.”

Good for them.  People should learn from this, and not just in elections where there is no incumbent.  The Orthodox electorate have decided not to be serfs.  Other electorates are forfeiting their citizenship. 

Mar. 22 2012 04:39 PM

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