De Blasio, Felder, Among Politicians Eyeing 10th Congressional Seat

By Reuvain Borchardt

de blasio congress
State Sen. Simcha Felder (L) and former Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia; Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

BROOKLYN — Former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and state Sen. Simcha Felder are two of the Democrats who may toss their hats into the ring for the newly shaped and open 10th District Congressional seat, which at least 10 current and former elected officials are eyeing.

De Blasio has been making calls to people letting them know he plans to run for the seat — which includes Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods like Borough Park, Kensington and de Blasio’s own Park Slope. Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein on Tuesday told the New York Post that the former mayor told him about his impending run.

“He’s in, he’s running – he’s calling” donors and elected officials, Eichenstein told the Post. “He called me earlier this afternoon. While I will keep our conversation private, I will confirm that we spoke for over 20 minutes about his decision to run for this district.”

Felder, an Orthodox Jew and conservative Democrat who represents portions of Boro Park, Kensington and Midwood in the state Senate, told Hamodia he is considering running for the seat as well. Other reported candidates include Assemblyman Robert Carroll, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, and former Councilman and TLC commissioner David Yassky. News of Felder’s possible run was first reported Tuesday by Politico, which reported additional possible candidates including Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and former city comptroller Scott Stringer. News outlet The City reported that former Council speaker Corey Johnson, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera are also considering running. Brian Robinson, a moderate Democrat who has never held office and describes himself as a “public safety focused moderate Dem,” has officially announced a run.

De Blasio, who represented portions of Boro Park while in the City Council from 2002-2009, is one of the few nationally prominent pro-Israel progressives, has upheld religious-liberties rights, and maintained warm relations with the Orthodox community for years. But sentiment in the community turned against him during his last two years in office, due to his handling of the Covid pandemic — such as banning communal prayer while allowing Black Lives Matter protests, calling out the “Jewish community” on Twitter for holding a large funeral during the pandemic, and mandating vaccination for private-school teachers — as well as surging crime.

Felder is popular in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods he represents in the state Senate, sometimes running unopposed for re-election. However, Democratic insiders tell Hamodia a Felder victory would be highly unlikely, as the district overall is deeply progressive.

A source close to Felder told Hamodia that Felder is hoping to face a large field of progressive candidates who split the vote, and that he will dominate in the Orthodox community and other conservative Democrats.

Felder told Hamodia that he has friends pushing him to run “partly to make sure that Bill de Blasio doesn’t come back into office.” Felder has been sharply critical of de Blasio, accusing the former mayor of being soft on crime, having an anti-business sentiment, and delaying payments for special education.

“I’m crunching the numbers and I have to see how many other people are running, because in a one-on-one race it would be impossible for me to persevere,” Felder said “But one thing is crystal clear — we will do everything humanly possible to defeat Bill de Blasio if he runs. He destroyed this city. We don’t need him doing any more damage.”

The 10th Congressional seat, currently held by long-time Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, recently became open, after a court-appointed special master charged with drawing congressional ditricts following the 2020 census on Monday released his maps, which cut Nadler’s Upper West Side out of the district. (Nadler is now in the same district as another longtime Democrat, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of the Upper East Side, and the two may run against each other, and possibly other challengers, in the newly created 12th District.) The map released Monday is preliminary; final maps will be released Friday.

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic consultant, told Hamodia, “The candidate with the best shot today is probably de Blasio, followed by Hoylman.”

“De Blasio can raise money, he’s got lots of friends  he’s woke enough, he’s out of a job, he needs work, and there’s only one thing he’s been good at – running political campaigns. Not actually running a city, but running political campaigns.”

Sheinkopf said he doesn’t believe Felder will run, because to do so would mean giving up his state Senate seat for a long-shot bid.

Another Orthodox insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Hamodia, “I love Simcha like a brother, but that district has extremely high turnout in the progressive areas. I don’t think Boro Park, during the summer when everyone is in the mountains or elsewhere on vacation, will produce even 10,000 votes. Simcha has very little chance of winning.”

But Felder says he has an additional goal for this Congressional race: to send a message that the community will aggressively pursue its interests.

“It’s about time that political parties stop taking the Jewish vote for granted. We deserve a seat,” he says, noting that if a Congressional district were drawn to encompass Orthodox neighborhoods including Boro Park, Kensington, Midwood, Gravesend, Marine Park and Williamsburg, an Orthodox Jew could be a natural winner of such a district. “Why is it that every other ethnic community deserves at least one congressional seat, but the Orthodox Jews are cut up into pieces, and we are unable to ever elect one of our own to Congress?”

The primary election for Congressional and state Senate seats will be held August 23.

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