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Orthodox jubilant at Eric Adams’ victory as Democrats bleed elsewhere in New York, nation

Eric Adams, a Democrat and former police captain, sailed to victory on Tuesday, becoming the first Black mayor of New York City since 1993 by an overwhelming margin over his Republican rival, Curtis Sliwa.

Elsewhere, however, Democrats had a bad night — to put it lightly.

While Republicans reclaimed the governorship in Virginia and had Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey locked in a dead heat, they also appeared to have doubled their representation in New York’s 51-member City Council, according to unofficial preliminary results. At least three seats now held by Democrats flipped, and Kalman Yeger, a Democrat who ran unopposed in Brooklyn’s Orthodox enclave of Borough Park, received a significant share of the vote on the Republican line.

On Long Island, Republican candidates swept local elections. In the race for Nassau County Executive, Bruce Blakeman, a Jewish council member in Hempstead and a former Republican congressional candidate, declared victory over the incumbent, Laura Curran. Another Democrat, Todd Kaminsky, a great-nephew of the comedian Mel Brooks, lost his bid for district attorney.

In the race for mayor of Buffalo, India Walton a socialist Democrat who won the endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, lost to the incumbent, Byron Brown, a moderate Democrat who ran a write-in campaign.

These local New York results create a sense of conservative momentum alongside the stunning outcome in Virginia. Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated the well-known Democratic nominee, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Republicans gained enough seats to put in doubt the Democratic majority in the House of Delegates, possible ousting as Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the first Jew in that role.

And in New Jersey, Murphy, who had won support from Orthodox and secular Jews alike was struggling to win a second term over his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli. The last Democratic governor to win reelection in New Jersey was Brendan Byrne in 1977.

Commentators saw the strong Republican showing as a backlash against the lack of progress by the Democratic-held White House and Congress, and said it would embolden the GOP ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

A party in Brooklyn

But in the ballroom of the Brooklyn Marquis, where Adams delivered a 30-minute acceptance speech, the mood was jubilant among a crowd of Democratic establishment figures, Black and Hispanic activists and Orthodox leaders.

“It doesn’t matter if you are in Borough Park in the Hasidic community, if you’re in Flatbush in the Korean community, if you are in Sunset Park in the Chinese community, if you are in Rockaway, if you are in Queens, the Dominican community, in Washington Heights,” Adams said. “All of you have the power to fuel us,” Adams said. “We are so divided right now and we are missing the beauty of our diversity.”

Adams beat a number of more progressive candidates in the Democratic primary for mayor in June.

The Democratic Majority for Israel, which did not pick a candidate in New York’s mayoral race, said on Tuesday it was nevertheless delighted at the outcome. “Adams stood strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself and against BDS while several of his primary opponents took very different positions,” a spokesperson for the group said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Adams beat Silwa by a 29-point margin in the heavily Democratic city, but failed to match the 73% of the vote that Mayor Bill de Blasio got when he was first elected, in 2013. And despite his popularity among Orthodox voters, Adams got only 39% of the vote in the 48th Assembly district, an area with the city’s largest Orthodox population.

Brad Lander, a progressive Jewish Democrat who represented part of Borough Park in the City Council, was elected City Comptroller. He will be succeeded on the council by Shahana Hanif, made history as the body’s first elected Muslim woman.

Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor, told the Forward he considered the race a success “because I have promoted the concept of ‘improve don’t move” — ” an idea he said he got from the late Chabad-Lubavitcher Rebbe, who instructed his followers to remain in Crown Heights during the 1991 riots and not move to other neighborhoods.

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