Race heats up for 44th District City Council seat

With money to spare and endorsements raining down faster than a summer thunderstorm, the two frontrunners in the special 44th District City Council race are galloping toward the March 23 election.

The district covers Borough Park and parts of Bensonhurst, Midwood and Kensington.

According to recent filings with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, David Greenfield leads all four candidates running with $135,570 raised while his chief opponent, Joe Lazar raised $118,515.

Both candidates should easily qualify for the maximum 6-to-1 matching grants of $92,400.

Probably not qualifying for the maximum matching grants are Republicans Jonathan Judge, who raised $3,261 and Kenneth Rice who raised $975.

Greenfield, who previously has been endorsed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, picked up another big endorsement from Connecticut Sen. Joe Leiberman last week.

More important, Greenfield is showing he has some base in Borough Park, where six prominent educators/rabbis from the Bobov, Pupa, Munkatsch, Boyan and Krasne Hasidic sects recently sent out a letter of endorsement.

Greenfield also has the support of Bobov law professor Harry Tzvi Reicher.

Educators in Borough Park are supporting Greenfield for his work in getting legislation passed giving parents of kids in yeshivas and other private schools tax credit refunds, said Reicher.

Lazar, who enjoys the strong support of Assemblymember Dov Hikind, also released a letter of support from more than 100 leaders from the Borough Park and Flatbush community.

“Those (signatories) are prominent people and a cross section of the entire 44th District, men and women representing thousands of people that support Joe Lazar,” said Hikind.

“Joe Lazar is a great candidate with great credentials. He’s not as pretty as Greenfield, that I give Greenfield and not as flippant as Greenfield. The point is this race is really about experience, and if you look at the two in terms of experience it’s not even close,” said Hikind.

Hikind’s strong endorsement has a personal edge as Greenfield once served as his chief of staff and the two did not have a smooth parting of ways.

Additionally, Hikind, a 28-year assembly member, wants to maintain his role as Borough Park’s most prominent political leader.

“Clearly Greenfield is making significant inroads into the base of Dov Hikind stronghold, and the onus is now going to be on Dov to prove he is the undisclosed kingmaker,” saidone highly placed Borough Park source who is staying neutral in the race.

The source said whileLazar remains the favorite, the race remains up in the air.

“The Lazar campaign feels very confident, but nothing is guaranteed,” said another source who backs Lazar. “Elections are won and lost in the last two weeks. Especially in a special election.”