Written by Yosef Hershkop
A little after 9:30 pm this past Tuesday night, the election results started becoming clear and a rare race which excited our community was ending with a whimper.
Before writing this, I attempted to reach out to people involved in all four of the campaigns, but was only moderately successful in my efforts. Therefore, as most of what I’m writing is my personal opinion, I look to your comments for feedback and fresh ideas on how we can work together to accomplish our shared mission.
Diana Richardson and the WFP (Working Families Party) won their first race in NYC without also being on another party line. Although the WFP are known to have a powerful and effective GOTV (Get out the vote) machine and lots of Union backing, they still play second fiddle to the Democratic Party’s establishment. Her win can’t be properly dissected until we see the detailed voting results.
However, it’s clear that from the four candidates she had the best stage presence and ran a very Obama-like campaign, which helped energize her base. She also didn’t neglect the non-Crown Heights parts of the district, and according to media accounts, won big numbers in the Lefferts Garden area. Her huge win, combined with Jesse Hamilton’s even bigger win in the State Senate race earlier this year, make it a tie ballgame in the Eric Adams vs Yvette Clarke power struggle. Over the next few years we’ll see who is the clear Leader of Brooklyn.
Mendy Raitport ran his best campaign yet, and his only real one since he first ran for public office in 2010. He successfully got a Who’s Who of the Jewish community to back him, even hiring a professional team to manage his campaign. But numbers don’t lie, and Raitport only managed to increase his vote-count by a few hundred votes, his higher percentage (going from less than 5% to over 20%) came from the extremely low turnout district-wide coupled with the increased Jewish turnout.
This race’s uniqueness provided Raitport with his only opportunity, and in order to win, he’d have needed to launch the strongest GOTV campaign ever seen in NY politics. On top of that, Raitport would have needed to make at least some efforts to reach out to the non-Jewish community, where at least some Church leaders and Private School parents would be receptive to his message. Lastly, running only on the Republican and Conservative lines was a mistake — he should’ve also tried getting on an additional party line.
Shirley Patterson and her team, led by Eric Adam’s inner circle, thought they had this locked up. But when other campaigns picked up steam, they didn’t know how to successfully implement the Bibi “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls” fear campaign. Her natural supporters didn’t think this race was very important, and we can assume that many of them stayed home. Her being more of a policy wonk and less of a Made-for-TV personality also hurt her. To her credit, she leveraged her connections within the Crown Heights Jewish community and managed to make a case for our vote even though she respected our want to vote in one of our own. She still keeps her prominent District Leader position, which should keep her in the political game for some time.
Geoffrey Davis… what can I say? He’s run in multiple elections since his brother’s murder and never come close to winning. He’s only won one minor race (Democrat District Leader). He’s a friendly guy who actually really knows the Crown Heights Jewish community but his personal baggage and his lack of a real power base makes it hard for him to even be a serious candidate. His future power may actually lie in his ability to endorse others.