In Brooklyn’s ‘Super Jewish’ District, Storobin Courts Fellow Russians

Senator Storobin greets a passerby in front of his Brooklyn District Office on Avenue U. ( Photo by Laurent Y.Peter via The Brooklyn Ink)

The Brooklyn Ink offered a glimpse into the campaign of David Storobin, the Republican incumbent state Senator from Brooklyn’s District 27, who is running for re-election barely six months after he narrowly won a special election to replace disgraced state senator Carl Kruger. His Democratic opponent is Simcha Felder.

District 27, heavily Democratic with a majority Jewish population, was restructured into what has been called a “Super Jewish” District after redistricting earlier this year.

As in the special election, Storobin is turning to his local base for support – his district’s fellow Russian Jews. A successful criminal defense, bankruptcy and divorce lawyer, Storobin moved to Brooklyn from Russia with his mother in 1991.

“It was tremendous poverty growing up, couldn’t afford to take the bus,” Storobin recalled. “I would walk everywhere in Brooklyn if I needed to go to Brooklyn Heights from Borough Park, I would walk.”

Storobin appealed to the broader Orthodox Jewish community by bringing conservative values to the campaign trail with promises to repeal the gay marriage law that passed in 2011, and to seek publicly funded vouchers for religious schools. At the same time, Russian Jews also saw value in Storobin’s support of small business owners. Speaking Russian in television and radio commercials, he often reminded them where he came from and where he is today.

Storobin has no dearth of deep-pocketed supporters within his community, The Brooklyn Ink reported, noting that $42,850 of Storobin’s $174,244 campaign contributions came from people with Russian names so far this summer, according to the New York State Board of Elections Campaign Financial Disclosure website.

Gregory Solovey, who moved to Brooklyn in 1989, donated $10,000. Maria Kovalyov, president of Russian-American Foundation gave a small contribution of $150. Other Russian contributions ranged from $100 to $1000.

“He is from the community, he can help us,” Solovey said, “he speaks our language.”

Some of the contributors to Storobin’s campaign are not from his district, but say they were won over by his pro-business stance.

“We helped him and hope he can help us out eventually,” said Edward Rozenthal, 46, president of Rem Transportation. “As we have same language and mentality and help business to survive, as with all pressure we are receiving from taxes, insurance, gas.”

Many in Storobin’s District do not speak English and are loyal to their Russian-language television channels and newspapers, where the Storobin campaign has spent thousands on ads. These campaigns are finding receptive eyes.

Anatony Mufel voted for Senator Storobin although he was previously a Democrat. (Photo by Laurent Y. Peter via The Brooklyn Ink)

Anatony Mufel, 72, voted for Storobin last March although he was a registered Democrat. After hearing of Storobin in Russian-language radio advertisements and interviews he decided to support him, “When times comes to voting I think not like a Democrat or Republican, I just choose my candidate, what I like the best,” Mufel said.

Living in the Brooklyn for the past 30 years, Svetlana Kozlovskaya, 52, was always a Democrat, but this time around she voted Republican for Storobin’s message to the small-business owners. For the national elections, she said she would vote for President Obama again, but on a local level believes that the Republican Party will support the interest of the small business that make up the Russian community.

“In Russia there was never a choice of voting.” Kozlovskaya said.  “They believe that with the recent fall down of economics the Democrats are too frivolous and in their (Russians’) opinion, the party should be strict. I believe he (Storobin) would preserve the mom-and-pop stores.”


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