In an interview last night, Fedler, a Democrat, said he had not made a decision about which party he’ll caucus with in Albany if he wins election to the State Senate in November – and that his choice would rest on which party would provide the most resources to his prospective constituents.
Felder, an ex-councilman who is the early favorite to win the heavily Orthodox Jewish district, and whose political plans have sparked intense speculation in local political circles, also seemed to suggest that his decision would be influenced by the outcome of the 2012 elections. He noted that the party holding the majority in Albany has historically held onto the capital’s purse strings.
“I don’t see myself as someone who is part of either party, and I can say that to you without lying,” Felder said, adding, “You can assume that based on historical factors, whichever party is in the majority, is probably the one that gets the goods.”
The chamber is currently divided 32-29 in favor of Republicans, though four members of the Democratic conference have also broken away to form their own faction, the Independent Democratic Conference. With the Senate so closely divided, Felder also called the hypothetical possibility of being the tie-breaking vote to decide Senate leadership a “dream situation,” since it would allow him to leverage the most resources for his potential the Senate district.
But Felder’s political situation has been growing ever-more complex.
Some Democrats close to Felder insist that the ex-councilman will conference with the Democrats regardless of who controls the majority. But other reports have emerged in the Borough Park press that the Senate Republicans, who have built a close relationship with the huge Jewish social service organization Agudath Israel, may well clear their line for Felder in some sort of a political deal. And former Democratic City Councilman Noach Dear is making noise about running for the Senate seat, most likely as a Democrat, which would further complicate Felder’s situation.
Felder says he has been given no assurances by Republicans about the party’s line — which would require the party handing over its Wilson-Pakula endorsement — and suggested that the outcome of a March 20 special election between Republican David Storobin and Democratic City Council Lew Fidler, which is dragging through a lengthy court fight, could be a factor.
“I think in the end, all I can tell you is that there are too many variables out there,” Felder said, “and they’re going to be out there for awhile.”
Storobin has said he would run as a Republican in the new “Super Jewish” district if elected, though speculation is mounting that Storobin could end running for the Assembly instead.
The only other declared candidate in the Senate race is Nachman Caller, a wealthy but politically unknown Republican, whose campaign circulated a photo of Caller voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary for Republican Mitt Romney. That was also meant highlight the fact that Felder voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary for Barack Obama – a vote could prove problematic in the Senate race, since Obama is deeply unpopular in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community.
Felder says he now regrets the decision, and would not repeat it.
“He’s been a terrible president,” Felder said of Obama. “Unfortunately, I was wrong, and I will certainly not be voting for the president in the upcoming election.”
Felder, who cracked frequent jokes throughout the half-hour interview, only seemed to bristle a bit once, when asked about tabloid criticism over his decision — enabled through a loophole in the city charter — to keep his well-paid post as first deputy comptroller in John Liu’s office during the Senate campaign. Felder noted that the move was entirely legal, and suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that he would stop campaigning during his off-hours when President Obama ceased campaigning during work hours.
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