Declaring the recommendation to expel maverick state Sen. Simcha Felder dishonest, the man who will decide whether the Brooklyn lawmaker will remain in the party slammed the procedure Thursday, saying he will not go forward with the ejection.
Frank Seddio, Brooklyn’s Democratic chairman, was seen loudly voting against the resolution when it was proposed Wednesday by the party’s executive committee, David Schwartz, the Democratic 48th Assembly district leader told Hamodia. But the chairman of the state convention gaveled the motion and declared it passed.
“They did not have a vote,” asserted Schwartz, whose district encompasses most of Boro Park and Midwood. “It was a bang with a hammer.”
“The resolution was a sham, it’s meaningless and it’s a disgrace,” he added. “No voting count was taken. Not only my dissent was ignored, but they also ignored the local county chair — the chair of the largest Democratic organization in the country, Frank Seddio. Without listening to him, it’s clear that the resolution is DOA at our committee, and without their support it’s meaningless.
A recording of the vote, as well as conversations with two attendees, made it hard to distinguish if the yeas or the nays were the majority. There was loud booing and shouts of “go!” when the resolution was announced. In addition, the Felder vote was called out at the same time as a vote supporting the legalization of marijuana in the party platform.
Seddio was not available to speak to Hamodia, citing the annual county dinner Thursday night. But he told Schwartz he would not allow Felder to be ejected from the party. And a spokesman issued a sharp statement on the vote.
“The resolution is against the spirit of the Democratic Party’s principle of inclusiveness,” said George Arzt, Seddio’s spokesman. “Frank is not going to take any action against Simcha Felder.”
An email to Geoff Berman, the state’s Democratic party chairman, was unanswered.
Democrats furious at Felder for caucusing with Republicans engineered a showdown Wednesday to remove him from the party — the first time in nearly a decade such a drastic move was undertaken. The last time an elected official was ejected by Democrats came in 2010, when they expelled Hiram Monserrate, a state senator from Queens who had been convicted on domestic abuse charges.
Felder told Hamodia that he had been feeling a chill from the Democratic side for years, but questioned their priorities in focusing on him at this point.
“Hard working New Yorkers are struggling to survive,” he said. “With high taxes, crushing cost of living, and ever-increasing homelessness, it is disheartening to see so many Democratic party operatives focused on throwing me out.”
The move Wednesday, seen as coming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, angered some of Felder’s constituents. Dozens tweeted using the #IStandWithSimcha hashtag, with several calling on him to leave the Democratic party. Felder won four years ago on three ballot lines — Democrat, Republican and Conservative. He remains hugely popular in the district and will likely win on the other party lines, if it comes to that.
“New York’s ‘Democratic’ Party adopted a resolution regarding my constituent, friend and our Senator, @NYSenatorFelder,” tweeted Councilman Kalman Yeger, a Democrat. “Simcha is a fighter for our community and he won’t be bullied. #IStandWithSimcha, and so does my community.”
“Thanks for coughing up the truth!” added Yosef Rapaport, a community activist. “This is about having contempt for our ‘community’ It for sure is not about Felder.”
“Tossing @NYSenatorFelder from the Democratic party?” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind in a statement. “Political hypocrisy at its worst! Find another scapegoat. What happened to the big inclusive tent?”