Ratcheting up their fight with maverick state Sen. Simcha Felder, the Democratic party’s executive committee recommended Wednesday that the Brooklyn lawmaker be removed from the party for his caucusing with Republicans.
“Removal of Senator Simcha Felder from the Democratic Party” was the fourth item on the program for the two-day convention, which kicked off Wednesday at Hofstra University on Long Island. Loud booing and shouts of “go!” accompanied the voice vote.
The party’s recommendation to expel Felder now heads to Frank Seddio, Brooklyn’s Democratic party chief, for a final decision. He is unlikely to act on the recommendation, insiders told Hamodia, but things could go either way.
The party’s 400 delegates also passed a resolution in support of Morris Blake, a largely unknown candidate who is challenging Felder in his Orthodox Jewish district. It comes weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, spooked by a primary challenge from his left, threatened Felder politically and said he would be directly involved in trying to knock him off the Democratic party ballot.
The Senate is evenly divided 31-31 among the two parties. Democrats are upset that Felder — the 32nd vote — is caucusing with the Republicans to give them the majority.
Felder remains hugely popular in the district and he is likely to win on the GOP and Conservative party lines that he’s secured in the past, if it comes to that. But an exulsion from the party will be seen by constituents as seeking to disenfranchise them.
Cuomo is seeking a third term this fall. A read of the political map suggests he will need significant turnout from the Orthodox community to beat back a primary challenge from leftist activist Cynthia Nixon.
Chaskel Bennett, a co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Council, said that the move would backfire.
“Orthodox voters see voting as a privilege and a democratic right,” Bennett told Hamodia. “Removing their representative from the ballot through backroom political machinations and not the primary will be viewed as a direct assault on their constitutionally protected rights. In my view, any attempt to throw Simcha Felder off the democratic line will rightfully earn the ire and scorn of an energized Orthodox electorate.”