Brooklyn, NY – As the dust continues to settle after last week’s roller coaster ride of an election, an Orthodox Jewish politician has once again found himself in the spotlight as the potential pivotal vote in the State Senate.
Senator Simcha Felder was originally elected on the Democratic line in 2012 but earned the scorn and criticism of party chairman Frank Seddio when he announced that he would be caucusing with the Republicans after taking office in 2013.
With that move, Felder tipped the balance of the 63 seat Senate in favor of the Republicans who now had 32 votes to the Democrats’ 31.
Felder has long said that his allegiance is not to any political party but to his constituents and that he would happily caucus with Senate Democrats in the future if it would better serve the people in his district.
An April 2016 special election held to fill the seat of former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos first shoved a somewhat reluctant Felder center stage, as political pundits wondered aloud which way Felder would cast his vote in the future if a Democratic candidate was elected.
Refusing to comment on his intentions at the time, Felder said only that he bore no allegiance to either party but would vote in the best interests of his constituents. While Felder has voted with the Republican party in recent years, he insisted his loyalties lay elsewhere.
“The only ones I am committed to is God, my wife and my constituents, in that order,” Felder told The Daily News.
Felder has readily admitted that he is no poster boy for the Democratic party, reported City and State New York.
“I would say the average loyal Democrat sees me as a heretic,” said Felder. “Of course I betrayed the party. The parties are not a religion.”
In the end it was Democratic candidate Todd Kaminsky who took over Skelos’ seat and Felder continued caucusing with Republicans in the Senate.
As officials continue to count ballots in two hotly contested Long Island Senate districts, a process that is expected to take weeks, the balance of power in the Senate is once again up for grabs. Felder, who ran unopposed on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative lines for his Senate seat in the general election, finds himself once again in the middle of a familiar script: whichever party he aligns himself with could very well be in control of the Senate until the next election.
And once again, Felder will make his decision by considering what is best for the people in his district.
“I may be crazy but I’m not stupid,” Felder said in an interview with the New York Post. “I’m going to do what’s going to get the most for my constituents.”