Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Andrew Yang eating a turkey leg at the 2019 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa.

Borough Park United, a coalition supporting Andrew Yang for mayor, is blasting the Shabbat Yiddish newspapers with a full-page ad signed by leaders of the Bobov, Belz, Satmar, Sanz-Klausenburg, and Pupa dynasties, stating:

“After seriously considering the policies and the capabilities of the current candidates, and what’s the in the best interest of our community, we are endorsing the popular and energetic candidate, businessman and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor in the Democratic primary.”

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Yang, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential campaign in February 2020, began his campaign for mayor of NY with one memorable faux pas about circumcision, when he told The Daily Beast “I’m highly aligned with the intactivists,” and “History will prove them even more correct.”

The intactivists campaign against involuntary, nontherapeutic genital modification, such as infant male circumcision. Not a good cause to support when you’re running for mayor of a city made up of so many Jews and Muslims who circumcise their male children.

There was another reason why Yang had to patch up his relationship with the Jewish community, especially the Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn: in the early polls of December 2020, the Hi-Tech millionaire Yang was running neck and neck at the top of a very crowded field with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was counting on his Jewish constituents to push him to the finish line.

Yang decided wisely that his relationship with NY Jews was much more important than the support of the intactivists, and the day after that Daily Beast quote he reversed himself, tweeting, “I support the freedom of parents to adopt circumcision for any religious or cultural ritual as desired.”

Good choice. In March, Yang received the endorsement of State Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal, who represents Kew Gardens, Queens. Yang then went about winning the hearts and minds of Adams’s core constituents – the Orthodox Jews. He took a lone stand in defending the yeshiva education system, at a time when some of its institutions had been under attack for neglecting secular curriculum subjects. He declared that the BDS movement was anti-Semitic – although it isn’t clear how much Borough Park Chassidim care about labeling settlement products, but like the man in the theater balcony said, it couldn’t hoit. And he hired a Chassid, David Schwartz, the Democratic District Leader for Borough Park, to head his Jewish outreach.

It paid off. Schwartz arranged for the candidate a well-covered visit to Borough Park to shoot a campaign ad and have a closed-door meeting with Orthodox community leaders. The result? An Emerson College poll in early March gave Yang 32% in a crowded field of 13. He captured 50% of the White vote and 60% of the Asians. Adams, who received only 19% (with 17% undecided) and led only with Blacks (31%) and Hispanics (26%). Yang also took 56% of the 18-29 group. He is estimated to be in the 40% range today.

And then, on Wednesday, Yang received a gift from the universe, when his other strong opponent, New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, was accused by a political lobbyist named Jean Kim who said she worked on his 2001 campaign—of sexually assaulting her. Stringer denied the allegation. Standing with his wife outside their Lower Manhattan apartment building, he called Kim’s accusations “false” and “inaccurate.”

Good luck to him.

The 2021 New York City mayoral election will consist of Democratic and Republican primaries on June 22, 2021, followed by a general election on November 2, 2021. But in NYC, which is practically owned by the democratic party, the election to win are the primaries. However, this year, there’s a new wrinkle: the primaries will not be winner-take-all. Instead, they will use ranked-choice (up to five ranks), instant-runoff voting, as opposed to the plurality voting of previous primaries.

Instead of indicating support for only one candidate, voters in the June primaries will be invited to rank the candidates in order of preference. Ballots are initially counted for each voter’s top choice. If a candidate has more than half of the vote based on first-choices, that candidate wins. If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The voters who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice then have their votes added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the votes. When the field is reduced to two, it has become an “instant runoff” that allows a comparison of the top two candidates head-to-head.

All of which means that despite his significant lead, all bets are off for the moment. If Adams (or Stringer) pick up more second-rank votes than Yang, one of them could outpace him past the 50% finish line. So, for now, Mr. Yang, just sat off Jewish topics. Nothing clever about Lag B’Omer or Shavuos. Remember, the campaign is yours to lose.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.
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