A rival once bet that Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon’s quixotic write-in campaign for City Council would get less than 100 votes. He was wrong.
Mr. Davidzon, a self-styled kingmaker in the Russian-American enclaves of southern Brooklyn, received 1,424 votes in his race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson, despite launching his campaign only a few weeks before Election Day.
Insiders believed Mr. Davidzon was trying to foil one of his rivals, David Storobin, by peeling off Russian voters to help the Democrat and eventual winner, Chaim Deutsch. Mr. Davidzon denied these charges, but nevertheless said he was satisfied with the outcome of a race where he still finished many thousands of votes behind Mr. Storobin and Mr. Deutsch (Mr. Deutsch won with more than 10,000 votes).
“I am very happy with the numbers but I really believe hundreds of people wanted to vote for me but didn’t vote,” Mr. Davidzon told Politicker yesterday evening, estimating that he could have netted as many as 2,000 votes. “When people ask to vote, they need to borrow glasses. People without glasses cannot vote. There’s not enough space to write in [the name]. It’s almost impossible to fit the name in the box.”
“Can anybody in this city have a two-week write-in campaign and get almost 2,000 votes?” he later boasted.
Mr. Davidzon owns a local radio station and other Russian-language outlets, and used his influence to promote his candidacy. In the past, he would often boost other candidates for office on his radio show, while accepting lucrative advertising and consulting fees from those same candidates. But Mr. Davidzon said his political work isn’t especially important to him–financially at least.
“When people discuss a lot of my business from the political campaign, I smile,” he said. “It’s a small part of my business. It doesn’t make any difference. I’m involved in politics because I like it. It’s very important for the Russian community to be visible.”
Mr. Davidzon, who told Politicker earlier this year that he is not registered to vote himself, also said it was good to have to have a Democrat representing the district. He supported a Russian-American Democrat, Ari Kagan, in the primary but said it was better for Mr. Kagan’s former rival to hold the seat over Mr. Storobin.
“My position is very clear. The situation in City Hall, where you have 48 Democrats and three Republicans in the City Council–I’m a very conservative person, many times I support Republicans,” he said. “To elect a Republican, it just puts the district in a very bad situation.”
Political observers in the area were watching Mr. Davidzon’s campaign closely to determine whether his brand was starting to slip. While Mr. Davidzon’s vote count was relatively solid, at least one Brooklyn Democratic insider unaligned with Mr. Davidzon thought his days as a local power broker remained numbered.
“With 1,400 votes, it depends how you look at it,” the insider told Politicker. “I don’t know if that number makes you a big player considering he has such an instrument to reached thousands free of charge.”
A similarly strong-but-unsuccessful write-in campaign was waged in 2000 by another southern Brooklyn, Russian-American candidate–now-Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny–which reportedly notched almost 1,500 votes in one southern Brooklyn district and almost 1,000 in another.