INTERVIEW: Brooklyn Dem Chief Slams Felder Evict as a ‘Shonda!’

BROOKLYN -
Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Frank Seddio during a 2014 visit to Hamodia’s office. (Hamodia Photo)

A recommendation by the Democratic party establishment to expel maverick state Sen. Simcha Felder is reminiscent of fascist regimes, declared the man who will decide whether the Brooklyn lawmaker will remain in the party.

“We are not Nazi Germany,” declared Frank Seddio, Brooklyn’s Democratic chairman, in an interview with Hamodia Thursday night. He added that he will not go forward with the ejection.

Days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed Felder’s decision to continue caucusing with the Republicans and threatened to support a primary opponent against him, the state’s Democratic party executive committee did just that. They voted at the quadrennial convention Wednesday to request that Seddio expel Felder from the party and declared their backing for Felder’s little-known primary opponent.

Seddio, asked if he was supporting Felder, was unequivocal.

“A hundred percent! A thousand percent! A million percent!” he yelled into the phone. “Simcha Felder is a mentch! He does what’s good for his people and that’s what matters more than anything else.”

Seddio was seen loudly voting against the resolution when it was proposed, 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 said. “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 when the resolution was announced. In addition, the Felder vote was called out at the same time as a vote whether the legalization of an illegal substance should be in the party platform.

“I thought it was outrageous,” Seddio said. “What are we, Republicans? We take people out of our party who we don’t like or we don’t agree with? Unacceptable. This is not Nazi Germany. This is America. And the Democrats should be acting more democratic. This is a disgrace. This is a shonda, what they wanted to do.”

“The people of his district make the decision as to who represents them,” he added. “And if they believe that he’s doing his job — and he has — then that’s the people who make the decision. And if they don’t like what he’s doing, then they’ll vote against him. So obviously he must be doing what the people like or he wouldn’t be elected every time.”

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. It is a record noted bitterly by Felder’s supporters in the community.

“Charles Barron is a member of good standing and Simcha is being expelled,” said one activist, referring to the former Black Panther and open anti-Semite who is a Democratic member of the Assembly.

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.”

An email to Geoff Berman, the state’s Democratic party chairman, went unanswered.

The move Wednesday, seen as coming from Cuomo through his appointees on the committe, angered some of Felder’s constituents. Dozens tweeted using the #IStandWithSimcha hashtag, with several calling on him to voluntarily bolt 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.

In City & State’s annual New York power ranking, Felder went from 79 last year to 25 this year, sandwiched between Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand before him and state Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia behind him.

“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.”

“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?”