Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Borough Park GOP state Assembly candidate Nachman Caller opens wallet in bid to unseat 16-term pol Dov Hikind
Borough Park’s long-reigning state Assemblyman Dov Hikind is facing a stiff reelection challenge from deep-pocketed Republican Nachman Caller.
The real estate investor plans to spend $500,000 to flood airwaves and popular Jewish outlets with ads slamming his Democratic opponent, according to several campaign insiders.
“Any time someone spends a half-million dollars, they are going to get some political traction,” said Republican consultant Michael Fragin, who is familiar with the race.
In response, Hikind, who has held the seat in Brooklyn for 32 years, is campaigning like never before, political insiders say.
That includes dozens of retail campaign stops at rarely visited community boards and other smaller, off-the-radar events.
The beleaguered pol has also tapped into his own nearly $1 million political war chest to spend about several hundred thousand on ads.
“You can’t visit a single Jewish website without seeing his name pop up,” one consultant said.
Political pundits predict Hikind will remain in power.
“Hikind has proven that he’s a very formidable elected official,” Fragin said. “He’s working really hard, and this race is his to lose.”
That hasn’t stopped Caller from hiring some of the biggest GOP consultants in the business.
His team includes Hank Sheinkopf, E.O’Brien Murray and community insider Moshe Friedman.
They believe their client, a GOP district leader, already has captured 45% of the vote.
And they’re trying to capitalize on a vastly changed demographic that includes more ultra-Orthodox Hasidic voters in the 48th Assembly District.
In contrast, Hikind, a religious Jew, wears a knit yarmulke and has long made his activism for Israel a trademark.
Many of the Hasidic voters now care more about quality-of-life issues like garbage pickup, parking problems and the rising cost of yeshiva for their children.
“This community needs to get their fair share from government,” Caller said in a campaign flyer. “We need concrete plans on how to tackle the housing and jobs crisis.”
Hikind responded by promising to address those issues and help bring down the “astronomical” costs of yeshiva tuition.
“Our families pay millions in taxes,” he told the Daily News, “and we deserve our fair share of relief.”
But Hikind is battling some bad headlines and may face criminal charges.
In September, Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission investigated the thousands of dollars Maimonides Medical Center paid to a company Hikind owns.
The Borough Park hospital revealed in July that it had given $65,000 to Hikind’s ad company over the past year for advertising on the assemblyman’s weekly radio show.
Hikind initially failed to disclose any income from the company and later amended his filings.
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