Brooklyn State Senator Simcha Felder notched a victory over liberal challenger Blake Morris in a primary focused on Felder’s role as a Republican-friendly kingmaker in Albany.
Felder, who faced criticism after he held up the state budget in an effort to lessen yeshiva oversight and then continued to caucus with Republicans, garnered more than 60% of the vote after being bolstered by a strong block of Boro Park Orthodox voters.
The race had major implications for the balance of power in Albany. The incumbent has given the Republicans a single-vote majority in the Senate, garnering him enormous leverage, which he has used to help shut down a bill to increase the number of city school zones with speed cameras while demanding there be more armed police officers to protect students.
Morris, who is a secular Jew, had said he hoped a “secret” Haredi vote would help put him over the top.
Some Orthodox apparently felt threatened enough to put out a series of ads around the High Holidays warning of progressive liberal cabal bent on destroying yeshivas.
The primary was switched to Sept. 13 from Sept. 11 after Jewish voters complained about holding the vote during Rosh Hashanah.
A New York Times endorsement touted Morris’ willingness to work with a Democratic majority on issues like fixing the city’s beleaguered subway system and going after corruption in Albany.
They also excoriated Felder for his decision not to follow his fellow Senators in the Independent Democratic Conference in rejoining the party.
But that seemed to be of little matter to some in the community.
“I’ll be honest, this community is probably not even looking at the New York Times. I don’t think anyone cares what they say,” an Orthodox voter in Boro Park told the Forward the day before the election.