The community activist mounting a challenge to State Senator Simcha Felder, a controversial legislator who is the one man standing between the Democrats and total control of Albany, said in an interview that the upcoming primary contest will test the power of Orthodox voters in Brooklyn.
“The majority of the district is not Orthodox Jewish,” Blake Morris told City & State. “They are a major component, but they are not the majority.”
Morris, an attorney, faces an uphill fight against Felder, who is seen as having a secure hold on the seat.
But machinations in Albany could draw outsized attention to the race, and many loyal Democrats strongly dislike Felder for siding with Republicans in the state Senate.
And moves by Felder to force through exemptions for Hasidic yeshivas from state oversight has renewed criticism of him outside of his district.
In his interview, Morris argued that Orthodox support for Felder does not guarantee his victory. The district, which includes Boro Park, Flatbush, and Midwood, encompasses the heart of Orthodox Brooklyn.
“Basically, Felder is a Republican in Democratic clothing,” Morris said. “And one of the reasons he doesn’t want to change party affiliations is he knows what’s going to happen to him as a Republican in the 17th Senate district.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.
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