The queens gambit

New super PAC prepares to defend Jewish councilwoman in competitive Queens race

The independent expenditure group, Future NYC, is planning to spend up to $100,000 in its effort to defend Lynn Schulman, a Democrat who has drawn two challengers in the June 27 primary

New York City Council

New York City councilwoman Lynn Schulman

A newly created super PAC is preparing to launch its first ad campaign in the coming days to help boost a Jewish city councilwoman from Queens who is facing a competitive primary election later this month.

The independent expenditure group, Future NYC, is planning to spend up to $100,000 in its effort to defend Lynn Schulman, a Democrat who has drawn two challengers in the June 27 primary, Jeff Leb, the super PAC’s treasurer, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday. The ad campaign, which will include mailers and digital ads, is likely to begin early next week, he confirmed.

Schulman, who chairs the Committee on Health, is the first openly gay woman elected to public office from Queens and the only Jewish Caucus member to represent the borough. The 65-year-old freshman incumbent, whose district includes the heavily Jewish neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Rego Park, is now defending her seat amid an abbreviated two-year term cut short because of recent redistricting.

Her rivals in the Democratic primary are Ethan Felder, a labor lawyer and Jewish community activist who ran for a Forest Hills Assembly seat last year, and Sukhi Singh, a small business owner and former representative of the Sikh Cultural Society. There is no publicly available polling, but local observers suspect the race could be close, even as Schulman has won endorsements from a range of prominent local elected officials, including Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).

In an interview, Leb, who has not previously revealed his plans for the primaries, called the race a “priority” for Future NYC, which is among a handful of outside groups that will also reportedly be engaging on Schulman’s behalf. “She occupies a position of great importance within the Jewish community and the New York City Council,” Leb explained. “She can speak from a different lens.”

Schulman has advocated for LGBTQ rights as well as affordable housing and health care accessibility. She has voiced opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and vowed to “support council resolutions expressing solidarity with Israel.” In February, she was among a large group of council members who left the Progressive Caucus over disagreements on police funding.

Felder, for his part, has been outspoken on Jewish and pro-Israel issues. He has pledged to back funding for law enforcement while promoting what he describes as a “holistic” approach to public safety. Meanwhile, Singh, whose campaign website touts a “progressive plan,” has stressed his support for funding educational programs to combat hate crimes.

The three candidates have all qualified for public matching funds. Schulman has reported spending nearly $90,000 in the race, while Felder and Singh have each spent around $45,000 on their campaigns.

Leb, a veteran political consultant, has previously been involved in efforts, funded largely by New York real estate executives, to oppose far-left candidates for local, state and federal office. He said the new group had no intention of attacking Schulman’s opponents and will instead seek to highlight her “support for the Jewish community,” her tenure on the health committee and her “pragmatic views.”

He declined to reveal the super PAC’s donors, whose names have not yet been publicly disclosed. Last cycle, Leb ran a separate independent expenditure group, Common Sense NYC, that spent nearly $100,000 to support Schulman, who had twice run unsuccessfully for the City Council. Among the group’s contributors were the real estate developer Stephen Ross and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who donated a combined $1.5 million.

According to Leb, Future NYC will be spending up to $1 million this cycle, including in the general election. In addition to Schulman, who is among a small number of potentially vulnerable incumbents, Leb said the group will be supporting at least two other Democrats, Marjorie Velazquez in the Bronx and Linda Lee in Queens, who are both facing primary challengers.

Future NYC had also been planning to spend $150,000 against a Democratic socialist incumbent in Harlem, Kristin Richardson Jordan, before she abruptly withdrew from her primary a few weeks ago. 

The unexpected departure also forestalled a barrage of attack ads from another new independent expenditure group, SAFE NYC, which was preparing to spend $400,000 to oppose Jordan’s campaign. The super PAC is expected to spend in other races this cycle but has yet to reveal its plans.

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