Anthony Weiner Hits Comeback Trail in Mayor's Race — With Scant Jewish Backing

Donors and Pols Shun Disgraced Lawmaker — So Far

Comeback Kid: A new poll shows Anthony Weiner has a chance of grabbing a good share of the Jewish vote in New York’s mayoral primary. So why are so few big-name donors lining up behind him?
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Comeback Kid: A new poll shows Anthony Weiner has a chance of grabbing a good share of the Jewish vote in New York’s mayoral primary. So why are so few big-name donors lining up behind him?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published June 03, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
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The Democratic candidates will vie in a primary in September. If, as expected, no candidate gets 40% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in a winner-takes-all run-off.

If he hopes to prevail this fall, one place Weiner may start trying to build his constituency is in the Russian-speaking Jewish neighborhoods of South Brooklyn, parts of which he has represented in Congress and the City Council.

Yet activists there say there’s little inclination to back him in the mayoral race.

“Anthony Weiner’s entrance into the race, from what I have seen, has not generated much reaction,” said Leonard Petlakh, executive director of the Kings Bay YM-YWHA in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, speaking in a personal capacity about his neighborhood.

Instead, the formidable political energy of Brooklyn’s Russian-speaking Jewish community is split among a handful of Democratic primary candidates, including New York City Comptroller John Liu, de Blasio, Thompson and long-shot conservative Democrat Erick Salgado.

Salgado picked Russian-language radio mogul Gregory Davidzon to manage his campaign in an apparent attempt to capitalize on Davidzon’s reputation as a Russian Jewish kingmaker. Davidzon drew attention for backing support for Bob Turner on his radio station in Turner’s unlikely 2011 victory in the special election to fill Weiner’s abandoned congressional seat. Since then, however, Davidzon’s preferred candidates have been dealt a succession of defeats in New York State Assembly and State Senate races.

“I believe Salgado will get support in the Russian-speaking community, mostly due to Gregory Davidzon’s support,” said Ari Kagan, a longtime Russian Jewish political activist now running for City Council and supporting Liu in the mayoral race.

Weiner, meanwhile, seems to have missed out on the support of major individual Russian-speaking donors who have backed him in the past.


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