An unorthodox Senate race in Orthodox Brooklyn
This is not an anomaly, in the context of contemporary Brooklyn: It's simply the latest example of the increasingly complicated relationship between Brooklyn's religious Jewish Democrats and the local Republican party that produced, among other things, Bob Turner's victory over an Orthodox Jewish Democrat in a special congressional election and Storobin's election to the Senate.
Felder is attempting to defeat a Republican by acting like one, even indicating that he might caucus with them if he wins; the partisan labeling of the candidates, increasingly, is a mere technicality.
In that context, the staffing decisions of the contestants aren't that hard to understand.
The Republican running Felder's campaign is E. O'Brien Murray, the very operative who orchestrated Turner's win.
Storobin, meanwhile, has moved to promote Pinny Ringel, a former aide to Bill de Blasio and to Felder.
A Republican Jewish operative I spoke to suggested two reasons for this. One is simply that Ringel has first-hand knowledge of Felder, a former councilman who is currently a deputy in City Comptroller John Liu's office. Two is that Ringel has deep and longstanding ties to many of the district's political machers, which the inexperienced Storobiin needs.
(Another Jewish operative I spoke to who is not connected to either campaign referred to Ringel as "a very cheery" person who's "been around forever" and is a "fixture in Borough Park.")
The Storobin-Felder race should test the replicability of Bob Turner's victory over Democratic assemblyman David Weprin in a race that was framed as a referendum on the White House's policy toward Israel, which was followed by a victory for Storobin, in his first run for office, over councilman Lew Fidler.
Felder, in some ways, is running against Storobin from the right; he's a conservative on social issues, as are most of the district's Orthodox Jews, and has conspicuously begun to downplay his allegiance to the Democratic Party, vowing to caucus with "the party that delivers most" for his constituents.
However, Felder is likely to talk about the aspects of liberalism that do appeal to many of the districts religious Jews, stressing the need for government spending on social program, like Medicaid, affordable housing and tuition assistance.
Storobin, as the Republican candidate, may be more constained there: He's part of a caucus that is ostensibly dedicated to cutting government spending. (One operative charged with outreach to religious Jewish voters left his position with the Republican Party after saying in a televised interview that the G.O.P. advocated for more government spending.)
A different Jewish operative a spoke to described the district's typical Orthodox voter as a "social Republican and welfare Democrat."
CORRECTION: This article has been changed to reflect the fact that Ringel was hired to work in Storobin's Senate office, not on his campaign staff.