Rightward ho! Simcha Felder moves toward the GOP

Simcha Felder will breach party lines and play footsie with the GOP in order to keep voters happy in the new Super Jewish district, the Democratic state Senate candidate announced last week.

Felder squares off next month against state Sen. David Storobin (R–Brighton Beach) — whose seat expires at the end of the year — but the former councilman must stand firm on decisions opposed by Democrats to please Brooklyn’s right-leaning Orthodox Jews, according to veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

“Conservative issues do resonate with religious people in the outer boroughs, particularly Brooklyn,” he said. “David Storobin’s election in the first place was proof that people want more conservative candidates there.”

Felder, whose ideological debate was first reported by our sister publication, the New York Post, is a heavy favorite to win the newly-minted district, which includes Midwood, Homecrest, and Borough Park, when he squares off against the rookie senator next month. But Storobin, who won a hotly contested battle against secular and liberal Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) in the spring, has tried to burnish his Republican credentials by proposing an anti-gay marriage law, while bashing President Obama and other top Democrats to woo voters in the enclave created earlier this year to fill the gap left by ex-Sen. Carl Kruger’s terminated seat.

Storobin has also been playing up his Judaism — something Felder, who is Orthodox, hasn’t had to worry about, said Sheinkopf.

“Most of his constituents will be happy about that,” he said. “There are certain benefits to caucusing with Republicans with his constituency.”

Felder, who has endorsed the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket, declined to comment, but his representative said it came to putting constituent priorities over partisanship.

“Bottom line, he’s going to caucus with the party that can provide the most benefit for the district he’s likely to represent,” said E. O’Brien Murray, Felder’s spokesman and himself a former operative for Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay).

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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