Goaded on by the prospect of four more years of Ed Day, the Orthodox community in Rockland County pulled out all their stops to defeat the Republican in Tuesday’s election. And the results were impressive. The community understood the urgency and came out in record numbers. New Square, for example, provided 600 more votes than they did four years ago. Altogether, the heimishe community rallied 17,000 voters to the polls, 2,000 more than they did in 2013.
But while this was a battle win for the community, they lost the war. It just wasn’t enough. Ramapo is just 20 percent of the county’s eligible voters. The community’s turnout was the impetus for Michael Specht’s victory to becoming town supervisor and the defeat of the Preserve Ramapo-endorsed slate.
But on the county level, Maureen Porette, a Democrat running on a progressive platform, couldn’t bring her base outside Ramapo to the voting booth. In addition, as many as 10,000 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for Day, despite Porette’s repeated attempts to tie him to President Trump.
There were other factors involved as well. A news-making election in Clarkstown, where a fire chief who had been fired by the town council ran for town supervisor, attracted an additional 33 percent of the electorate. As Day’s home base, they voted for him by about 90 percent.
In all, Day got 4,400 more votes than Porette. The community did not coordinate with her, but they brought her a record number of voters and she either couldn’t get her base to the polls or couldn’t get them to vote for her.
Day’s victory is leading to much soul-searching in the community. Where do they go from here? At his victory speech late Tuesday, Day ensured that the animus that started off as a legitimate concern about overdevelopment but quickly turned into old-fashioned anti-Semitism will transfer onto his second term.
“We have promised to preserve this county; I will not back up (sic) on that promise,” he told a group of cheering supporters. “We will fight to combat slumlords who abuse people and risk our firefighters. And we will stop the unreported development that will overtake this county one way or the other.”
That “unreported development” has been used by Day in the past as a code word for Jews. He has also slammed “Ramapo” as a symbol for lawlessness — a fairly explicit dog whistle to the nativists in the county who blame the Jews for their high taxes. Day has accused the Jews of educating their young in unsafe buildings and of voter fraud after he lost the Conservative and Working Party lines in the September primary.
Yeshivos have been closed down, forced to suspend classes for days, or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars because of his crusade against them. Through his and his allies’ online pages, Day has radicalized the county against the Orthodox community to such an extent that it has become normalized to get stares and snide comments when going to the mall.
Mosdos and members of the community in Monsey and Spring Valley must now contend with four more years of the same.
Another Republican county executive in New York has made a career — and an election victory Tuesday — out of sticking it to the Jews. As “Ramapo” is to Rockland, “KJ” is to Orange County.
Kiryas Joel secured a remarkable victory on Tuesday by getting town of Monroe voters to approve an expansion and the conversion of their village into their own town — which will be called “Palm Tree,” English for “teitel boim.” The new town, which will come into existence in 2020, was the result of a lot of hard work by village leaders in arriving at a détente with their opponents, United Monroe.
But the animosity of county executive Steven Neuhaus hasn’t ended. During a debate in the last days of the race, Neuhaus accused his Democratic opponent of meeting “numerous times” with “the Hasidics.” The accusation drew a rare fierce response from Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin. “STOP making KJ your campaign issue,” Szegedin wrote in a letter to Neuhaus. “STOP spreading hate, fear and angst about the peaceful Hasidic residents.”
Neuhaus’s bombast led to a tidal change in Kiryas Joel. In 2013 they overwhelmingly voted for Neuhaus — by a margin of 6,429 to just 20 for the Democrat. That changed on Tuesday, with the village voting overwhelmingly against Neuhaus.
Michael Fragin, a political strategist who has worked with many Republicans over the years, expressed concern over the rhetoric coming out of Rockland and Orange counties.
“As a Republican strategist,” Fragin, who is an Orthodox Jew, told Hamodia, “what most concerns me right now is that the winning formula for Republicans in the Hudson Valley is to demonize the Orthodox community.”
Tuesday’s election results in Westchester and Nassau counties carry an ominous warning for the Republican majority in the state Senate. They currently hold only 31 out of the 63 seats, but control the chamber through an alliance with an eight-member breakaway Democratic caucus and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.
But with the defeat of Republican county executives in those two counties, as many as six Republican senators are at risk in next year’s elections.
Another person who should be taking a hard look at this is President Trump. With six Republicans in New York on the ballot next year, he can hardly afford to lose the House or Senate. Make no mistake — a Democratic majority will try to impeach him.