Chaim Deutsch, chief of operations for incumbent City Council member Mike Nelson in the 48th District, was the leading candidate emerging primary election to succeed Nelson on Tuesday in a tight race.
Deutsch, a community activist and founder of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol in his native borough, appears to have defeated four other challengers in the Democratic Party contest: Igor Oberman and Ari Kagan, both from the former Soviet Union; attorney Natraj Bhushan, and Theresa Scavo, chair of Community Board 15.
Deutsch and Kagan received the majority of the votes in the primary – Deutsch, 3,081 (33.9 percent) and Kagan 2,785 (30.6 percent) – with the other candidates splitting the remainder. Counting of paper ballots and recanvassing may yet change the results.
If he prevails, Deutsch will face Republican David Storobin, a former member of the State Senate, in the Nov. 5 general election. Storobin, an attorney, was born in Russia.
Some observers had predicted last year that a candidate with roots in the USSR would stand a good chance of capturing the 48th District that was redrawn by a City Council commission, reducing the concentration of Orthodox voters and creating a “Super Russian” district. While some said the Russian vote would be split, Kagan ‘s share was more than double Oberman’s 1,307 votes.
Deutsch is Orthodox.
The primary race featured several issues of unique to émigré voters, such as a claim that Kagan, who had served as a journalist in the Soviet Army was a KGB officer, and a controversy over the change of Kagan’s first name from Arkady to Ari.