THE Key NY Race of 2012: Lew Fidler for State Senate
Current City Councilmemer and candidate for State Senate Lew Fidler has intrigued me for some time. He and I are often on the opposite side of some of the divides in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, but his ability at times to bridge those divides and at times be a better spokesperson for the reform side than I am has impressed me. At two County Committee meetings in a row he was one of the strongest reform voices and the one most critical of the machine despite his machine ties. Of course it put at risk his machine ties, but he had no fear of that risk and preferred standing on principle rather than take the easy route. Not sure he ALWAYS does that, but it is clear that he has little fear and does not care too much about the easy route.
And the key thing for me was that he stood up to the machine, right in its face, several times and though this pissed off party boss Vito Lopez, Lew is too strong and too much of a fighter for Vito Lopez to take on. And I think that really is key: Lew Fidler doesn’t fear Vito Lopez and, if Vito fears anything after all he has been through, he may feel just a twinge of it when faced with Lew. I see Fidler as the only person who just might be able to bring Vito down (it would be a tough fight!) and Vito knows it, too. If nothing else, Lew has made clear to Vito’s face that Lew can and will stand up to a challenge from Vito. That is someone I want around.
Here, thanks to my friend Raul Rothblatt, is footage of Lew reaming the machine he is often allied with for going too far:
And I would love to see Lew Fidler go up against Republicans with that same lack of fear and make them feel the slight twinge that Vito may feel in Lew’s presence these days. Make no mistake, even though Fidler is far from as progressive as I would like and is certainly a moderate, Republicans do NOT want to face him in the State Senate. I’d say between Diane Savino and Lew Fidler speaking their minds with no fear, with intelligence and with no nonsense, Republicans would have many a bad day in the State Senate. Well and good and the best reason to support Lew.
But Lew Fidler has also always been open to discussing my criticisms and we have had many good discussions by email. Far more than many politicians he answers my emails and takes the time to discuss important issues. He doesn’t only listen to people who agree with him and THAT is also a quality I like.
I went to Lew Fidler’s official announcement for State Senate to replace the disgraced and disgraceful Carl Kruger, who I think should have been ousted LONG ago. In discussions with Lew long before it was clear he would run once Kruger was out, but it is good to see it official. I could have done without his opening act and some of his supporting cast, but those are people I am rather infamous for opposing sometimes quite vocally to their face. Lew is much better than some of the supporters who showed up at the announcement, and there were a few prominent folks I respect. Again, since Lew and I have often been on opposite sides of the reform-machine divide, it can be expected I may find myself nauseated by some of his creepier supporters (Marty Markowitz, disgraced judge Seddio and Dominic Recchia to name the three hardest to stand near), it is clear to me that they are there on Lew’s terms, not the other way around.
And for the record, here are my wife and me going up against disgraced judge Seddio of the Vito Lopez machine at the same meeting that Fidler did his thing in the video above:
Yeah...ain't my wife wonderful! AND she is a Karate teacher! So don't mess with me or she'll come after you!
Lew Fidler’s opponent is Soviet born Republican David Storobin, who represents some of the worst the Republican Party has to offer. Besides being typical of Republican support of the richest 1% over middle class and working class Americans (hell, name ONE Republican who isn’t??), Storobin seems frighteningly sympathetic to white supremacists, specifically the Afrikaner Independence Movement. My wife wonders why a Russian Brooklynite would wind up so tied to the Afrikaner Independence Movement (and is rather surprised there could even BE something so lame and pathetic as an Afrikaner Independence Movement), and it does suggest that Storobin has gone somewhat out of his way to forge such a link. And many white supremacist groups (e.g. Stormfront) love Storobin, so any qualms I might have of a few of Lew Fidler’s supporters pales massively in comparison to the disgust I feel at many of Storobin’s supporters.
Gatemouth has been the main person highlighting the links between Storobin and white supremacists, a sadly all too common link in the modern Republican Party (and that 100 years ago may be have more common among Democrats). See for example:
Many are comparing the special election to replace the disgraced and disgraceful Carl Kruger to the special election to replace the rather foolish Andrew Weiner. And the comparisons are worth looking at partly as a warning (so far unheeded!) to Democrats and to look at the key differences.
The race to replace Anthony “step away from the keyboard” Weiner pitted Democrat David "Dry White Toast" Weprin (or should that be Dry Challah toast?) against Teabagger Bob “I never met a Billionaire I didn’t like” Turner. The race was a tough one because the district was trending fairly strongly Republican. Weprin was a weak candidate and fundamentally that is why he lost. But to outline the key reasons why Weprin lost and Weiner is replaced with a Teabagger are:
1. Weprin was a weak candidate
2. Progressives and reformers did almost nothing to help beat a Teabagger
3. The Vito Lopez machine did almost nothing to actually do their job and defeat a Republican
4. Religious Jews in the district betrayed Weprin (an Orthodox Jew) because they (ignoring huge volumes of Jewish History) put their own homophobic bigotry before even their own self interest
5. Weprin was a weak candidate.
Sadly, progressives and reformers in Brooklyn (and I consider myself part of both!) all too often get stuck in their own fantasies of finding the best progressive or reformer and will only too late realize that the consequences of their inaction mean another Teabagger screwing the 99% for the benefit of billionaires. That's what happened in last year's congressional race and I fear it will be a factor this year in the NY SD27 race.
Sadly the supposedly "Democratic" (if very undemocratic) Vito Lopez machine puts its own self interest and desire for power and patronage over defeating Republicans.
And also sadly, religious Jews often know more Torah than they do history and forget that when bigotry between minority groups divides those minotity groups, both groups wind up getting screwed. To borrow a phrase my wife often uses about Democrats, the religious Jews allowed themselves to be divided and conquered by the far more bigoted Republicans. I should note the one time I got troll rated to all hell was when I referred to this foolishness by religious Jews in their betrayal of Weprin, and it was largely my fault for various reasons. But the fact remains the religious Jewish community and their bigotries and their gradual shift to the right is something Democrats have been too long ignoring and we LOST A CONGRESSIONAL SEAT LAST YEAR because we were ignoring it.
Overcoming any one, let alone all, of these requires a strong candidate. And therein is the massive difference between the race to replace Weiner and the race to replace Kruger.
Lew Fidler is far from a weak candidate. Already the machine has shown they are not sitting this one out (despite Fidler's standing up to Vito Lopez to his face), so already Democratic turnout will be higher than for Weprin. Fidler also has been better able to navigate the Byzantine relationships within the highly divided and divisive religious Jewish community in Brooklyn than Weprin was, and so looks to do very well in the main group that defeated Weprin. I wonder if the reform and progressive Democrats will learn from last year's fiasco, but already most of the reasons why Weprin lost are swept aside by Fidler.
Storobin’s main source of support (Afrikaner separatists aside) is the Russian community, which is strong. But whereas Weprin seemed either willing to cede territory to his opponent or unable to contest it whether willing or not, Fidler on day one fearlessly heads straight into enemy territory by challenging Storobin for the Russian votes. Fidler doesn’t have to WIN the Russian votes, just make it a lot harder for Storobin to lock it up and Fidler has already succeeded at least part way in doing that.
I am by no means saying Fidler WILL win. On paper Fidler has an even tougher time than Weprin. But never underestimate the value of a strong candidate or the disadvantage of a weak candidate. Democrats tend to lose even against overwhelmingly good odds when they field weak candidates. They tend to win even against overwhelmingly bad odds when they field strong candidates. So I think this will be a hard fought race and Fidler is no shoe in, but my money is on Fidler. I supported Weprin (because honestly he would have made a good Congressman) but never thought he had a strong chance. With Fidler I think we have a good shot.
And maybe I can look forward to a combined Diane Savino/Lew Fidler assault putting the fear of G_d into State Senate Republicans and maybe some backbone into the Democrats.
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