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The Orthodox Jewish senate district in Brooklyn: a rebuttal

The Orthodox Pundit blog has a great rebuttal to my posts on the new Orthodox Jewish majority district that's included in the proposed redistrictingmaps. My argument, made over a couple of posts, is that voting trends and registration suggest the new district isn't a sure thing for Senate Republicans and, more importantly, the dividing up of conservative voters into two senate districts in Brooklyn may end up backfiring.

In the response, the OP blogger points out the string of Republican-over-Democrat results--from McCain to Paladino--in Assemblyman Dov Hikind's district. Hikind, while a Democrat, has often sided with Republicans over social issues, and his district would be the heart of the proposed 17th Senate seat.

"They clearly lean republican," the OP blogger says. "Their registration as democrats and electing democrats is solely for political expediency. Democratic primaries are where most local races are decided, and they want to be a part of the process, and a republican city member is virtually worthless, so they will elect democrats.

"In national and statewide elections, they vote their conscience, and republicans generally do well. In local elections, where the candidates and their positions are less known, they will elect officials based on community leaders’ wishes, the candidates’ chances, and their support for the community, without any regards to party lines. This calculus until now favored democrats, because Orthodox haven’t had a chance to sway elections in places where republicans matter."

These points are well taken. OP's arguments are certainly the ones Senate Republicans had in mind when they went and drew the seat they did. The district's political leanings have far more to do with individual candidates and the issues inside the community than party registration.

The problem, though, is that senate districts are significantly bigger than assembly districts. The larger the seat, the more diverse the voting pool. In a place like Brooklyn, that means bringing in people that are actually Democratic voters.

That doesn't make anything OP is saying wrong. But the lens here is wider than just the Orthodox community, even as they will surely be the anchor to whatever district gets drawn. In trying to carve out two seats for Republicans in southern Brooklyn, Senate Republicans may be stretching themselves precariously thin.

But a lot of what happens at the end of this year will be determined by what happens in the election next month, as OP points out:

As of the current round, Lew Fidler is the clear front runner for Kruger’s seat. He’s a known in the community, and Storobin have yet to get a single community leader in the non-Russian Orthodox community behind him.

But Fidler haven’t nailed it down yet. The establishment is not firmly behind him. The two Borough Park Orthodox elected officials – even the councilman strongly behind his candidacy - have yet to endorse, and the leading Askunim are still wavering between the clear front runner and majority leader Skelos’ pick.

In essence, it’s clear that the seat is Lew Fidler’s to lose, but it is still a possibility. Should Storobin get the community leadership behind him.