NEW YORK – With exactly one week to go before votes are cast in the 2022 midterm elections, New York's Orthodox Jewish community continues to play a significant factor in the neck-and-neck election for the state’s governor. On Tuesday, the largest voting bloc in Brooklyn's Borough Park released an endorsement for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin, despite supporting other incumbent Democrats.
In a flier written primarily in Yiddish, the Bobov Hasidic Sect endorsed Zeldin over his incumbent challenger, Democratic governor Kathy Hochul, who replaced former governor Andrew Cuomo after he resigned amid sexual harassment charges in 2021.
Courting the Orthodox vote
Although New York is considered a blue state— it has not had a Republican governor since 2002— Long Island Rep. Zeldin is narrowing the gap between himself and Gov. Hochul. This week's Emerson College Polling/Pix11/The Hill survey found that Hochul was leading Zeldin by just 6% with 4% remaining undecided. Zeldin, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, is currently serving as a representative for the state’s first congressional district. If elected, he will become the first Jewish Republican governor of New York.
Also on Tuesday, the Bobov Sect backed two incumbent Democrats, Letitia James for attorney general and Charles Schumer for senate.
Meanwhile, Gov. Hochul wrote a letter Tuesday to Orthodox leaders stating she acknowledges "education is an important value in the Jewish community and I want to assure everyone that Jewish schools will always be treated with fairness and respect." As governor, Hochul has taken a hands-off approach, stating that the Education Department operates independently of the governor.
Ongoing state attempts to regulate yeshiva schools, in addition to New York City’s increased hate crimes and cash bail reform, appear to be the leading factors in Zeldin's rise among Orthodox voters.
New Yorkers go to the polls on November 8.