Russian Power Broker Looks Ahead After Salgado Loss

Erick Salgado.

Erick Salgado playing stickball.

Inspired by the Tea Party, Gregory Davidzon is trying to craft a right-wing of the Democratic Party.

The Brooklyn-based Russian media mogul, known for trying to crown candidates in local races, made another foray into citywide politics this year when he backed a little-known reverend named Erick Salgado for mayor.

Mr. Salgado, a social conservative who often boasted about being the only Latino Democrat running, finished a distant sixth in the primary Tuesday– a disappointing showing, Mr. Davidzon confessed.

“In the future, there’s some chance to build a right-wing of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Davidzon told Politicker yesterday. “I do believe many Democrats are not so liberal. They don’t have nobody to [vote for]. Many people don’t want to be Republican. At the same time, they’re not so left-wing.”

Mr. Davidzon, along with Mr. Salgado, tried to carve a citywide coalition of Latinos, Russians and Orthodox Jews to make a significant dent in the race. Instead, Mr. Salgado¬†was a mostly whimsical presence at televised debates and forums. Mr. Salgado drew snickers for claiming that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in the wake of his proposed soda cup restrictions, would move on to ban¬†chicken wings. He later equated Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights struggle to his own quest to appear in public polling.

Though Mr. Davidzon had no illusions about a Salgado victory, he was nevertheless surprised by the reverend’s lackluster electoral performance. The mayoral candidate received a little less than 3 percent of the vote.

“I believe he got more Russian votes than Orthodox votes or Spanish votes. That surprised me,” he said. “The Latino community really is a sleeping giant. It’s a little bit strange for me … We should have gotten at least 5 percent, that’s my feeling.”

Mr. Salgado’s best-performing election districts were in neighborhoods like Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, where Brooklyn’s Russian population is concentrated.

“I am very proud of this alliance. Latinos, Orthodox, Russians,” Mr. Davidzon insisted, making sure to note Mr. Salgado, who raised a paltry $278,140 for a citywide race, did not have the money to compete with his rivals.

Money, though, was not a problem for Mr. Davidzon. Critics point out that the Salgado candidacy buoyed the fortunes of his radio station, which raked in $48,000 in advertising revenue from the campaign, according to city campaign finance records. Mr. Salgado even spent $800 to rent a conference room from Davidzon Radio and used Ozzie Heymann, an employee of the station, as a spokesperson for his campaign.

Mr. Davidzon, though, said backing Mr. Salgado was not a profit-making decision.

“I certainly could have made much more money supporting other candidates,” he said. “First of all, nothing wrong to make some money. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

And Mr. Davidzon remained hopeful that his plan to create a new branch of the party would one day be realized.

“It’s the same thing with the Tea Party,” he noted. “it’s a right-wing of the Republican Part. Working Families is the left-wing of the Democratic Party. We can do that here.”