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Are our votes being counted? Are Orthodox Jews being taken for granted? How are politicians relying on the Orthodox Jewish electorate? – Are the questions asked ahead of the general election in the fall.
Tuesday’s primary day turnout was relatively low statewide – 9.7 percent. In the Borough Park/Midwood section of Brooklyn, some 2,500 people turned out to vote, compared to the around 15-20 thousand voters in the general election.
Considering that there were no races in this district, not to mention the overwhelming support for Republican candidates in the general, the 2,500 voters that came out to vote for Governor Andrew Cuomo and Zepher Teachout (Randy Credico received 129 votes in the 48th district), some say, was a success for the grassroots GOTV effort, spearheaded by OJPC and Council Member David Greenfield.
“I am very happy to say that the numbers in our community were extraordinary,” Greenfield said on his weekly radio show Thursday night. The pundits point out that in previous elections, some competitive ones, turnout were about the same.
But Assemblyman Dov Hikind was not impressed. Speaking on his weekly radio show Saturday night, Hikind remarked that the turnout “was incredibly low.”
“And that was, btw, with all the signs on all the poles, and all that stuff. People did not vote,” he said. “Politicians-mayors and governors- they look at this. They want to see who is voting and how many people.”
Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, who was a guest on the show opined: “In many ways, we should vote more than any other community.” He noted that “when we give out frisbees on a Sunday afternoon, you have 3000 people waiting on line for a frisbee that is worth 39 cents.”
Nonetheless, according to the NY Times’ Joseph Berger, “politicians are already paying attention.” Berger notes that the top city and state officials “have hired Hasidic or other Orthodox advisers, choosing to court that vote more aggressively over the more diffuse traditional Jewish vote. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy director for intergovernmental affairs is Avi Fink, an Orthodox resident of Queens. Letitia James, the public advocate, employs Yoel Lefkowitz, a Satmar Hasid from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as a community outreach coordinator. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s liaison to the Jewish community is David Lobl, an Orthodox Jew; Abraham Eisner, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, is an unofficial consultant. Simcha Eichenstein, a Hasid regarded as a political wunderkind, is the senior adviser to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.”
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