For decades they were a fixture on New York’s political landscape: names like Ed Koch and Abe Beame, Andrew Stein and Alan Hevesi, Harrison Goldin, Mark Green and Elizabeth Holtzman.
Now that landscape is shifting, leaving behind the question: Can a Jewish Democrat get elected in this town anymore?
In the Sept. 15 Democratic primary election, there were three Jews running for comptroller and two for public advocate. One of each made it into last week’s runoff. But none was elected.
At 24, Mark Botnick is in charge of outreach to the Jewish community for Mike Bloomberg’s third mayoral campaign. The Yonkers native, an alumnus of Westchester Day School and Westchester Hebrew High School, worked on Bloomberg’s last campaign while still at Queens College and afterward went to work at the city’s Community Assistance Unit until this year. A Democrat, he lives on the Upper West Side.
Q: How does it look for the re-election? Do you think the mayor will pull it off?
To Jewish Democrats, the defeat of Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, the last Jewish Republican in the Senate, is proof that GOP should stand for the Gentiles-Only Party. Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition is having none of it. The Philadelphia native, 42, who has been national director of the group for 19 years, says there are still plenty of prominent Jews in the party ranks and, if he can help it, plenty more to come.
Q: What was your reaction to the court decision ending Coleman’s suit for a recount?
In the course of a conversation in a kosher pizza shop, Isaac Abraham whips out a pen and paper and draws a layout of Flushing Avenue in Williamsburg to show how the rerouting of traffic from the closed Brooklyn-Queens Expressway 20 years ago was harmful to the area.
“Heavy trucks ruptured the foundations of the synagogue and schools,” he recalls. “It was impossible for anyone to get anywhere. People were silent for six, seven months until we found out the truth — that the contractor walked off the job.”
With Betsy Gotbaum declining to seek re-election, there is no incumbent in this year’s heated race for public advocate. Or is there?
Mark Green, the Democrat who narrowly lost the mayoral race in 2001 after two terms as public advocate, is looking for his old job back. In 1997, Green won more votes in his re-election bid in that job than did Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his.
It’s one of the top political questions in the city: Will Anthony Weiner run for mayor?
The Queens-based congressman who made a respectable Democratic primary run in 2005, forcing a runoff only to cede the nomination to Fernando Ferrer, has often spoken about his intention to run again, but recent developments have sown doubts.