Reports last June indicated that Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an influential power broker in the Orthodox Jewish community, would back Democratic Councilman Lew Fidler for the seat that then-State Senator Carl Kruger looked likely to leave vacant in the near future. Mr. Kruger did indeed resign his seat and is currently heading to jail for corruption. However, Assemblyman Hikind’s said in an interview today that he’s unsure which candidate he will eventually support.
Although the parties have not chosen their nominees for the special election yet, Councilman Fidler and attorney David Storobin are believed to have the inside track to their respective party nominations. “Lew is a friend, and I’ve spoken to him on numerous occasions,” Hikind said, describing his relations with the two candidates. “I’ve also had the opportunity to meet the Republican candidate, David Storobin. I saw him last week when he asked to see me.”
First reported by City & State, Assemblyman Hikind was originally said to be giving Councilman Fidler his endorsement as a “birthday present,” and that he “did not deny he had promised to support Fidler’s bid for the Senate seat.”
However, Assemblyman Hikind says that this is not currently the case. “A lot of things are written. Some are true, some are not true,” he responded when asked about the article. “To be honest with you, I remember when that came out. I called Kruger to tell him that, at that point, I was supporting him if he was running for reelection.”
Now that Mr. Kruger has resigned, Democrats hope to hold the seat in a special election, rumored to be March 20th. Hikind accurately noted that the district Mr. Kruger left behind is a very conservative district. Although heavily Democratic in registration, the district voted 55% for John McCain for President in 2008, more than every other district but one in all of New York State. And GOP Congressman Bob Turner, backed by Assemblyman Hikind, won this district with roughly 66% of the vote in his own special election earlier this year, in no small part thanks to the support he received from the Orthodox and Russian Jewish communities.
The Jewish Press recently interviewed Mr. Storobin and asked him about the Assemblyman’s reported endorsement of Fidler. Mr. Storobin advised the interviewer that the reports “may not necessarily be accurate.” He then went on to praise Assemblyman Hikind in the interview. “I met Dov Hikind for the first time when I was a child,” he said. “I think he’s a great man, so I would definitely want his endorsement.”
Councilman Fidler is not likely to give up on the Orthodox Jewish vote even if he loses Assemblyman Hikind’s endorsement. In what may be the first advertising expenditure of his state senate campaign, he took out a full page ad in the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia highlighting every Jewish organization he’s funded in the City Council.
As to the candidate he will ultimately endorse, Assemblyman Hikind firmly states that he simply hasn’t thought much of the issue. “I am a Democrat, and I really would like to support Democrats,” he said while noting that he’s “not made a final decision.”
Despite his role in assisting Congressman Turner’s campaign in 2011, Assemblyman Hikind also made sure to note that Councilman Fidler won’t be the same pushover that Congressman Turner’s opponent, Assemblyman David Weprin, was. “Lew is not David Weprin,” he said laughing. ”On many different levels… They are two very, very different people.”