In a twist, Simcha Felder, a Kensington-area Democrat who was recently elected to the State Senate, has announced that when he got to Albany he would vote with the Republicans – and many in his district don’t seem to mind, according to the New York Times.
The Hasidic and other Orthodox communities of Borough Park, Midwood and Kensington that he represents seem to be less concerned with Felder’s party affiliation than with what he will actually accomplish for them. According to the Times, they want government money for tuition and busing at yeshivas, which Senate Republicans have accommodated in the past.
“It was understood that he was a Democrat by name, but not in his views so much,” Rabbi Zvi Mermelstein, 29, of Borough Park, told the paper of Felder.
But for Democrats, Felder’s switch has created tension.
Brooklyn Democratic chairman Frank Seddio called the party jump “both a disgrace and a complete betrayal of his constituents,” according to the paper.
The Jewish-heavy district that Felder represents was created at the request of Agudath Israel of America, a group representing Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox organizations, in order to gain leverage by consolidating the Orthodox vote into one district.
According to the Times, Felder, 53, is an ordained rabbi – but not a practicing one – as well as a certified public accountant. He has most recently held a post as a deputy city comptroller.