Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) announced his long-anticipated candidacy for state Senate on Monday — taking a few swings at borough Republican leaders who vowed to bankroll GOP challenger David Storobin in the upcoming race for disgraced Democrat Carl Kruger’s seat.
“Republicans said they want to turn Southern Brooklyn red,” Fidler told more than 100 supporters in a ten-minute stump speech on the steps of City Hall — which is more than ten miles away from the heart of the district that stretches from Brighton Beach to Bergen Beach. “That’s not going to happen.”
Fidler, armed with a list of 266 community, civic and religious leaders declaring their support — a list that included more than 20 current and former democratic elected officials — promised to use common sense and chutzpah to fight for affordable housing and lower property taxes in Albany, and win back voters who feel betrayed by the notoriously dysfunctional senate.
“In my campaign, the people come first,” Fidler said. “I have always viewed representing the people as a unique privilege, and a public trust that may not be breached.”
Fidler’s list of supporters includes former Mayor Ed Koch, who helped Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) get elected by fueling the candidate’s anti-President Obama, pro-Isreal platform. Kruger’s district was considered a democratic stronghold until last year, when 66 percent of voters chose Turner over Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) to replace former democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned after a cybersex scandal.
Fidler’s announcement ended months of speculation that he would run for the seat Kruger gave up last month after tearfully pleading guilty to accepting $1 million in bribes from deep-pocketed lobbyists in exchange for his help on legislative matters.
Fidler had been eyeing the seat since Kruger was indicted on corruption charges, and has more than $331,000 in his war chest for the March 20 special election, according to his most recent fundraising report.
Storobin hasn’t told the Board of Elections how much money he’s raised, but insiders told the Politicker blog that he already has $120,000 in the bank. GOP leaders have pledged to kick in hundreds of thousands more to send the Brighton Beach attorney to Albany in the hopes that it will help them win southern Brooklyn.
Republicans wasted no time slamming Fidler, who they call a political insider, for launching his campaign alongside other elected officials in Manhattan — unlike Storobin, who announced his bid at a party on Coney Island Avenue. There were only two elected officials at Storobin’s side at his campaign kick-off: state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Craig Eaton, chairman of the Kings County Republican County Committee.
“The last thing the residents of Brooklyn need after Carl Kruger resigned in disgrace is another politician who is more comfortable with his political cronies [than] he is with regular people,” said senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif.
Fidler scoffed at Reif’s claim.
“I’m not surprised senate Republicans don’t recognize civic and religious leaders from Brooklyn,” he said, referring to the men and women behind him. “I guess they haven’t seen them before.”
Fidler’s fans agreed, saying the lawmaker has earned his front-runner status.
“[Fidler] works very hard,” said Brighton Beach resident Ari Kagan. “[He] knows the issues and cares about his constituents.”