Former Councilman Simcha Felder has announced a bid for the state Senate in a newly created district that includes Borough Park and Flatbush and is intended to have a majority Jewish vote.
Two fellow Orthodox Democrats threw their support behind Felder on Tuesday at a press conference intended to show that Felder has the Orthodox vote locked down.
“The reaction throughout this entire district, which some people call a super-Jewish district, has just been overwhelmingly positive” about Felder said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who was joined by Councilman David Greenfield.
Felder, an Orthodox Jew, is a Democrat, but was reported to have met with Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who encouraged him to run. A conservative Democrat in the Senate would be a crucial ally for the Republicans in pushing their legislative agenda and Felder’s candidacy could be a hedge for Skelos in case a Republican candidate is not elected. Felder reportedly dodged journalists’ questions at the press conference about whether he would caucus with Democrats or Republicans.
In a phone interview Friday, Felder said "I don't believe that belonging to political parties is a religious oath. I believe it's important to work with everyone and anyone who will help the Senate district and that's what I intend to do."
Felder is currently a New York City deputy comptroller under John Liu. He will retain the position during the campaign. Once seen as a strong contender for mayor, Liu has seen his political fortunes fall because of fundraising irregularities that led to the arrest of his campaign treasurer.
The man who succeeded Felder in the Council, Greenfield, was an ardent opponent of the so-called Super Jewish District, saying it is essentially a Jewish "ghetto" that dilutes the community's power by removing voters from surrounding districts.
"It's there now, irrespective of how anyone feels about it," said Felder of the change. "I can do the best job anyone can to represent the district."
The New York Observer’s political blog said that another of Felder’s predecessors, Noach Dear, currently a Civil Court judge, has been seeking support for a possible run for the same Senate seat.