High Holiday appeal

De Blasio reaches out to Orthodox Jewish community to save presidential campaign

New York Mayor plays the schnorrer in Brooklyn to avoid being a national schlemiel

Jacob Kornbluh

Mayor Bill de Blasio visiting Borough Park on November 2, 2018

Bill de Blasio is mounting an unusual appeal to Orthodox Jews in an effort to salvage his struggling presidential campaign. The New York City mayor is hoping that voters in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Midwood and Borough Park will prove more receptive to his message than those in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold 2020 primaries. 

In an interview with Ami Magazine, a widely read weekly print-only publication in the Orthodox community, de Blasio appealed to readers to help him reach the 130,000 donor threshold required to appear on the October debate stage. “I am asking everyone to help me get the kind of name recognition and understanding of what I offer out there,” the mayor stressed in the interview, which was published on Wednesday. “I ask everyone who believes in the kinds of things I’ve been doing to help me get that message out.”

As Politico first reported last month, allies of the progressive mayor in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox community launched a campaign in Yiddish to raise small-dollar contributions. The campaign — which circulated on WhatsApp and on posters in local synagogues — asked the Orthodox community to, in recognition of de Blasio’s efforts on sensitive local issues, help the mayor reach the donor threshold necessary to qualify for the debates. 

In the end, de Blasio did not qualify for Thursday’s debate in Houston, Texas. Now the 2020 hopeful is running against the clock to meet the mark in time to qualify for the next debate in October. Last week, de Blasio suggested that he would drop out if he fails to make it to the October debate stage. Further, even if de Blasio reaches the donor threshold, the New York mayor still needs to reach 2% support in four different qualifying polls of the Democratic primary before the end of September to participate in the next debate.

In an attempt to find a sympathetic ear among Jewish voters, many of whom are supportive of President Donald Trump and his policies, de Blasio emphasized in the interview, “I’ve always enjoyed a very close relationship with the Jewish community. In fact, when I first ran for City Council it was the support of the Jewish community that allowed me to become a Councilmember. As president I would bring that understanding with me, and I doubt you’d be able to find many presidents with as rich, deep and emotional a relationship with the Jewish community as mine.”

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