A group of nine leading Hasidic sects in Brookyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, including the two large Satmar factions, have decided to back Andrew Yang as their first choice for mayor, sources who were involved in Monday night’s decision told the Forward.
The endorsement locks up the Orthodox voting block for Yang, one of the leading candidates for mayor of New York City, and gives him a welcome boost in the remaining weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary.
With New York City under the new ranked-choice voting system, the Orthodox voting blocs, which historically have been influential in local elections, are also expected to rank Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, as their second choice and Scott Stringer, the city’s comptroller, as their third. Recent public polls show Yang and Adams in a close race for first place, with Stringer in third.
Rabbi Moshe David Niederman, a political leader representing the faction led by Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, told the Forward that the “consensus among the community leaders was to support the candidacy of Mr. Yang because of this refreshing approach to the Yeshiva education issue – seeing through the baseless attacks to appreciate the exemplary outcomes of Yeshiva alumni – and his commitment to allow yeshiva education to continue without interference.”
The Yang campaign did not respond to an inquiry about the development.
This marks the first time the two Satmar factions, who offered competing endorsements between Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, the two leading candidates in 2013, have agreed on a mayoral endorsement in a Democratic primary since the sect split amidst a succession feud in 2006.
Experts estimate that New York’s 1.1 million Jews make up about 20% of the voters in the city’s Democratic primaries. Historically, they have proved a powerful and even decisive factor in mayoral elections. The approximately 80,000 voters in Brooklyn’s Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox communities, where rabbinic dictates about ballot choices can lead to a reliable bloc of votes, are particularly sought after by candidates. Mayor de Blasio barely avoided a run-off in the crowded Democratic primary in 2013 by winning more Jewish voters than his competitors.
The endorsement comes after a number of large congregations in Borough Park announced their support for Yang, who has aggressively courted the city’s Orthodox Jews in recent months. He defended the yeshiva education system, took a bold stance by labeling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as antisemitic and hired a member of the Hasidic community as his campaign’s Jewish outreach director. Adams and Stringer, who have longstanding relationships with the community, have also invested time and effort courting leaders and campaigning in the Orthodox neighborhoods.
Sid Davidoff, a former top aide to Mayor John Lindsay, suggested in a recent interview with the Forward that rank-choice voting gives groups of voters an advantage, because they now have the ability to recommend multiple candidates and avoid burning bridges with a number of potential victors.
“They now get a couple of bites at the apple that they didn’t have before,” he explained.
Niederman said in a statement on Monday that rank choice gave them a chance to endorse “additional friends with whom we worked closely for so many years” and “look forward to work with the ultimate victor and all our friends to defend our religious and parental choices of education.”
Hasidic voting blocs announce rank choice endorsements