Dean Skelos, the Majority Leader of the State Senate, received a glowing profile in the Orthodox Jewish magazine Mishpacha this week, furthering the outreach Republicans are doing to the rapidly growing, but traditionally Democratic, community. Mishpacha, published out of Jerusalem, could have hardly been more positive: Mr. Skelos’ feature photo is him hard at work, captioned, “DEAN of the SENATE.”
The substance of the profile is even more favorable.
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to climbing ladders, whether they are painter’s ladders or political ones,” reads one passage. “Dean Skelos has scaled both types — rung by rung — en route to his present position as New York state senate majority leader. In an exclusive interview in his district office in Rockville Centre, Long Island, Senator Skelos made it clear that he wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
The magazine also connects Mr. Skelos’ record to issues important in the Orthodox Jewish community:
Jewish organizations would echo the positive sentiments. A frequent guest of honor at Jewish functions statewide, he has built and maintained a long track record of support for legislation of importance to the Jewish community during his 28 years in the state senate.
Just in the last year alone, Senator Skelos was instrumental in the 2011 extension of the state’s Tuition Assistance Program that will grant funding to rabbinical students. He supported a budget compromise in December that ended an onerous payroll tax levied to finance subways that was costing yeshivos dearly. He also was a force behind the recent redistricting that carves a new senate district out of the predominantly Orthodox Boro Park, Midwood, and Flatbush neighborhoods. While Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is unlikely to sign off on the new district without modifications, the effort represents an important victory for both Senator Skelos and the Orthodox community.
New York’s Orthodox population, which is seeing its numbers grow in many competitive districts from Brooklyn to Rockland County, could be seeing its political importance growing as well. Mishpacha accurately notes that Orthodox voters are a substantial portion of former State Senator Carl Kruger’s district, the location of a high-profile special election this Spring.
Mr. Skelos’ outreach to the Orthodox community is not just confined to legislation and interviews with Jewish magazines; he can also be occasionally spotted ladling soup at kosher soup kitchens in Brooklyn.
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