In a bizarre 11th-hour twist, Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon has leaped into a heated City Council race in southern Brooklyn.
Mr. Davidzon, the owner of a local Russian-language radio station and magazine, announced today that he’ll be mounting a write-in campaign for a highly competitive seat with just three weeks to go before the November election.
“I’m running because I can win,” Mr. Davidzon told Politicker after making the announcement on his station this afternoon. “I will spend as much money as I need to. Most importantly, before I made this decision, we made our internal poll and the numbers showed … I have chance to win.”
A self-professed kingmaker in the Russian-speaking immigrant enclaves of Brooklyn, Mr. Davidzon mulled for some time about whether to launch his bid for term-limited Councilman Mike Nelson’s seat. The move is a surprise for Mr. Davidzon, who has long been involved in local politics, but said he is not registered to vote himself.
Nonetheless, if Mr. Davidzon pulls a significant number of Russian-American votes, he could impact the outcome of a race that is heavily divided along ethnic lines between Russians and Orthodox Jews. Republican David Storobin, a former state senator, is also Russian-American, as is Working Families Party candidate Igor Oberman, who lost the Democratic primary for the seat. Chaim Deutsch, who hails from the district’s sizable Orthodox Jewish population, is the Democratic nominee.
Mr. Davidzon said his goal was to elect a Russian-American candidate to the City Council, but sources said his quixotic bid could, in fact, make it more difficult for Mr. Storobin to win. The two have been at odds before–Mr. Davidzon prominently backed Mr. Storobin’s state senate opponent last year.
“This proves there’s still major bad blood between Storobin and Gregory,” said a Brooklyn Democratic source. “It’s nothing more than Gregory doing what he can to prevent Storobin from winning.”
Like every write-in candidate, Mr. Davidzon also faces a tremendous uphill battle–something he acknowledged in the brief phone interview.
“Is it difficult, yes? It’s difficult. I will take some from votes from Chaim. Storobin can’t take any Democrats from Chaim. I am supported by Republicans, I am supported by Democrats,” he declared. “I am trying to make history. If I knew for sure Storobin would win, I would probably never run.”
Update (7:25 p.m.): According to a press release from Mr. Davidzon’s fledgling campaign, he has already secured the support of Ari Kagan, a Russian-American who lost the Democratic primary to Mr. Deutsch, and Democratic Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, among others:
“Davidzon has already been endorsed by Democratic Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny, 46th Assembly Democratic District Leader Mark Davidovich, the Reagan and LaGuardia Republican Clubs, 45th Assembly Republican District Leader Boris Pincus, 45th Assembly Republican District Leader Joan Braunstein, 46th Assembly Republican District Leader Marcus A. Nussbaum, 46th Assembly Republican District Leader Lucretia Regina-Potter, 45th Assembly Democratic District Leader and former City Council candidate Ari Kagan and former Republican Assemblyman Arnaldo A. Ferraro.”
Additional reporting by Colin Campbell.