Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Borough Park has given his highly coveted endorsement for mayor to former city Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., a move that could prove decisive with Orthodox Jewish voters in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary.
Hikind appeared with Thompson outside a kosher pizza store in his district Thursday afternoon and promised his support through the general election.
“Bill Thompson is one of the most decent guys in town, someone you can work with,” Hikind told The Jewish Week in a phone interview later in the day. “I have not the slightest doubt he wil be a great friend of our community.”
As recently as last week Hikind was saying he had difficulty making up his mind between Thompson and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who represented part of Hikind’s Assembly district in the City Council from 2001-2009. But Hikind said Thursday he made up his mind after returning from a recent trip to Israel for a family wedding.
“They are both good friends, and I put a lot of thought into it, and my decision was that Bill Thompson was unequiviocally the best candidate,” said Hikind, who also backed Thompson in 2009, when he narrowly lost to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was then a Republican. Hikind has endorsed candidates from both parties for local, state and national offices.
He has had a mixed record of picking winners, though: In 2010 he backed the loser in a City Council race in his own neighborhood, Joseph Lazar, who lost the decisive Democrat primary to David Greenfield.
But Hikind said Thursday “I can only guarantee four votes,” those of himself, his wife and two sons. “I always meet people who ask me, who are you supporting?… I know I have my share of enemies who are out to hurt me, but I think there are a lot of people out there who trust me.”
Hikind was to campaign with Thompson Friday on Avenue J, the busiest Jewish shopping strip in Midwood.
Seven Democrats are continuing to battle for the Democratic nomination ahead of the Sept. 10 primary. Orthodox Jews form a tightly knit voting bloc that could prove decisive in a close election.
It is considered unlikely that one of the seven candidates will win more than 40 percent of the vote, forcing a run-off between the two top vote getters.
Thompson served a Brooklyn’s deputy borough president, headed the city’s Board of Education in the 1990s, and was elected in 2002 to serve as the city’s comptroller. He held that position until 2009.
UJA-Federation’s 2011 population survey of the city found that the Orthodox are concentrated in a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It found also that their numbers grew by more than 100,000 in the past decade.
The Orthodox vote is most significant in Democratic primaries when it could represent as much as 7 percent of the Jewish vote.
David Pollock of the Jewish Community Relations Council was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying there is a “finite number of places where you can collect votes wholesale rather than retail, and the Orthodox community is one of them.”
Most of the Democratic mayoral candidates have Orthodox staff members who have fanned out across the city and the bungalow-colonies in the Catskills hunting for votes. And the candidates themselves have appealed for Jewish votes by promising to subsidize bus transportation for yeshiva students, as well as after-school programs, special-education material and security.
Assistant Managing Editor Adam Dickter contributed to this report.