Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Defeated Republican State Senator Storobin: “I’ll be Back in the NearFuture”

Outgoing State Senator Storobin is stillprepared to re-enter public service and fight for his core political beliefs. Photo Credit: Dave Sanders for The New YorkTimes.

(My interview with David Storobin as published in this week's Jewish Voice). It has been a tough year for New York State SenatorDavid Storobin. After a fierce battle following a two-month recount, theRussian-Jewish political newcomer made history, being declared the victor in arace nobody had given him a chance of winning, by beating his challenger with amere 13 votes. Ultimately only able to attend sessions in Albany on 11 days, Storobinquickly decided to run for reelection in Brooklyn’s newly drawn ‘Super Jewish’district. 

Last week, Storobin lost his reelection bid to DemocratSimcha Felder. “It's disappointing, but I'm only 33 years old and nothing isover. I'm very proud of what we've done,” David Storobin told me in anexclusive interview for the Jewish Voice.“In March, we were able to win a race where nobody gave us a chance. Iintroduced legislation to fight for vouchers, against redefinition of marriage,for lower taxes, to improve our schools and much more. We were able to bringback property tax rebates for our seniors, with myself being one of thesponsors of the law.” As Storobin implied, all of these important accomplishmentswere achieved during his very short time in office. 

Will voters regret not granting him another chance? 
“WhateverI promised to do, I delivered to the degree possible, and nobody can sayotherwise,” Storobin said. Modifying his campaign slogan ‘Promised andDelivered,’ the feisty legislator doesn’t feel he overstated the term.“Sometimes you can pass laws, but sometimes you can just introduce them andstart to fight for them without being able to pass them yet,” he explained. “Buteither way, whatever I could do on social issues, fiscal issues, education, andevery other promise I made as a candidate, I went out and did everything thatwas possible for me to do.”

“For such a short tenure, a lot was accomplished,” hesummarized.

As control of the State Senate hangs in the balance,Simcha Felder, who was elected last week to represent the conservative JewishBrooklyn district, has committed at press time to caucusing with theSenate Republicans when he arrives in Albany next year.

“This is why the Orthodox Jewish community should votefor real Republicans, and not for allegedly conservative Democrats, who give usconservative rhetoric, only to support liberals for the leadership of thelegislature they are serving in,” Storobin stated, before the news of Felder’sfinal decision came through. “If you support a liberal as the Speaker or theMajority Leader of your legislature, and support other liberals to be thechairmen of all the committees, you cannot turn around and claim to be aconservative in line with the people of this community.” Thus Storobindismissed Felder’s original “dilemma” or promise to work with either party.

[NOTE: When the news about Felder siding with the Republicans became official, i contacted Senator Storobin and asked him to comment on the latest development. Storobin congratulated Simcha for making the right decision. "I welcome his decision to side with the party whose values align with those of the frum community. I hope he will fight for lower taxes, school vouchers and conservative social values," he said]
Storobin’s earlier assessment left no doubt of where Felder’s loyalty to his constituents should start. Thedefeated government official feels that the choice is very clear from aRepublican point of view. “Appointment of the legislature leadership is thesingle most important thing that elected officials do, and if you support theliberals to head the legislature, then you are responsible for all theirliberal programs. It's that simple,” insisted Storobin, as he reiterated hiscontrasting argument that apparently fell on deaf ears during theelection. 

So I asked Storobin, who is to blame for the Republicanlosses in New York?  In suffering severelosses all across the state, from State Senate races to heavily competitive Congressionalseats, was it just a bad year for Republicans?

“There's no question that it was a bad year forRepublicans,” he responded. Nevertheless, Storobin left no doubt that DeanSkelos, the Republican majority leader bears some of the blame. “We lost three seats,plus we lost a new seat that was created. We went from having 33 Republicansout of 62 Senators to having 30 Republicans out of 63 Senators. The Senate GOPthought they would redistrict in such a way as to increase their majority.Instead, they made severe mistakes and lost badly. About half a year before Igot elected, I presented them with maps for winning multiple seats in New YorkCity, but these were rejected, and the result is that we are now down to twoRepublican Senators in all of New York City, and it is possible that we mightlose one of them in two years,” said Storobin, who made history in becoming thefifth Republican elected official in Southern Brooklyn just earlier this year.

Storobin told me that the devastating effect of HurricaneSandy may have contributed to the low turnout in the State Senate race,especially among the predominantly conservative Russian population battered by thehurricane in Brooklyn and the Rockaways. Having said that, Storobin firmlybelieves that time will tell whether “the Republican leadership could have donea much better job on several fronts, which could've led them to keep theirmajority.” 

As I sat with a relaxed David Storobin, he did not seemto be too shocked about his loss; instead, he was focused on what’s next forhim. Inspired by the “recycling” return of Israeli politicians to power,Storobin invoked the promising mantra: “We’ll do more once I'm back in officein the near future.”

So what’s next for David Storobin? I was eager to know.“For now, I will go back to practicing law in my law firm,” he said. “But Idon't think it will be a surprise to anyone that I intend to remain on thepolitical scene. I was the only Jewish Republican elected in New York City. Nowwe won't have any. I think there's a need for at least one, preferably a few ofus.”

Addressing the rumor spreading around town about apossible run for the City Council in 2013, I asked Storobin, if theredistricting lines match up a favorable district for the Russian community inBrooklyn, will you run for City Council next year only if you are assured youcan win, or you will keep on trying like Menachem Begin? 

“There's no such thing as a guarantee in politics,certainly not for an upstart, ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ kind of candidatelike myself,” he responded. “Politicians may clear the way for one of theirfellow "blue-blooded insiders," but never for an immigrant ‘sonwithout a name,’ as I was called by my opponent. The politicians don't want aregular person to participate in the political process.  They will give us nice speeches, but they areabsolutely horrified that a regular guy may become an elected official,”Storobin asserted.

In conclusion, while both candidates ran as a “jointticket” with Mitt Romney - either on the Conservative or the Republican line,Storobin is not too hopeful with Obama's reelection.

“I feel like our country deserves better. A normaleconomic cycle involves six to eight years of growth, followed by one to twoyears of recession. But our recession is going into its fifth year now. Nomatter what Barack Obama says, what is going on today cannot be explained bywhat happened in 2008. A recession would never last this long without thegovernment actively harming our economy. Barack Obama was not responsible forwhat happened in 2009, but he's absolutely responsible for what we are seeingin 2012.”

Storobin continued, “It is also very disappointing thathe's refused to visit Israel, despite visiting its next door Arab neighbors. Ihope I'm wrong, but I have a bad feeling that the relationship between Israeland the United States will suffer tremendously now that Barack Obama doesn'thave to worry about getting re-elected. Most of my family - including myfather, my 3 siblings, my uncle, my 2 cousins, among other relatives - live inIsrael and have served in the IDF, so the welfare of the Jewish state is anatural concern to me. I hope that our President realizes that Israel is avaluable friend that should be treated with respect,” he concluded. 

Time will tell if Senator David Storobin is on course tosucceed in politics in the near future, but one thing became very clear andaffirmative during the entire interview – this is certainly not the last youhave heard of David Storobin.

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