Although attorney general candidate Dan Donovan’s big meeting with Hasidic leaders was yesterday–a meeting that ended with a premature endorsement announcement–according to sources in the campaign and in the Jewish community, Donovan is preparing a major push for Jewish voters in the final weeks of the campaign.
The campaign is relying on many political operatives who have done Jewish outreach for the Bloomberg administration and who worked on David Greenfield’s campaign for City Council last year.
Mark Botnick, who now works for Ed Koch’s New York Uprising and who left the mayor’s community affairs unit to work on his re-election campaign, was with Donovan yesterday as he toured the Hasidic neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Botnick was Greenfield’s campaign manager. Also assisting is Michael Fragin, a former Pataki aide who helped out Greenfield and who led Donovan through his home town on Long Island last Sunday.
All are volunteers. Menashe Shapiro, who also worked on Bloomberg ’09, is coordinating the effort.
“It’s basically a carbon copy of Bloomberg’s Jewish outreach in 2009,” said one member of the Hasidic community.
Yesterday, Donovan met with the Aron faction of the Satmar community in Williamsburg and not the Zalman faction, who are more numerous. However, the Zalman faction is closely allied with Vito Lopez, and since Donovan is charged with the investigation of Lopez’s non-profit, the campaign thought it would be inappropriate to meet with them. Many of the questions that Donovan fielded yesterday, in Williamsburg at least, had to do with Lopez in some fashion or another, but Donovan demurred, citing the investigation that his office is conducting.
Hasidic voters especially tend to vote as a block, and the Donovan campaign thinks that they have at least a fighting chance of getting a considerable number of votes there, particularly because of Donovan’s relative social conservatism–he is pro-life and against same-sex marriage. However, Schneiderman, who is Jewish, also has deep roots in the community, having done legal work many years ago in Kiryas Joel.
Even if Donovan did not secure an official endorsement from the people he met with yesterday, he did secure one from Isaac Abraham, the community activist who ran as a Democrat for the City Council last year.
He cited Donovan’s party registration as a reason to vote for him, echoing Ed Koch’s endorsement of Donovan last month.
“When you have a Democratic governor, it’s always better to have someone running the shop that’s a Republican,” he said. “It doesn’t make a difference what party you are with. If you fail, you fail.”