Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From the Situation Room: The Man Behind Simcha Felder's Victory

'OB' [O'Brien Murray] never gives up until the last vote is count. This is what drives the Republican campaign manager - who deserved the manager of the year award for his instrumental role in electing Congressman Bob Turner in the September 13th special election in NY9 last year - OB (his official nickname) so cautious about the outcome of the campaign he is charged of. 

While Simcha Felder is the ultimate winner of the 17th State Senate race last night, Murray definitely was the driving force behind the campaign. While I worked with OB on the Bob Turner congressional and senate primary campaign, I got to know the man in the situation room and (and learn) his tactics, his managing skills and most of all his controlling mode. OB takes nothing and nobody for granted, thus does not rest until his candidate is announced the winner. 

Unfortunately, this time around I was not on the same page with him, yet we remained friends throughout this process and beyond. After all we both are Republicans. While Murray took charge in setting the campaign message and outreach, fighting day and night to disqualify Storobin from appearing as a candidate on the ballot - by challenging the Republican's petitions, Murray - who was not brought up in the borough park neighborhood - knew when to make noise and how to dominate the narrative of the race. He even learned some Yiddish expressions, I'm told. 

Kalman Yeger, who was hired following Felder's Democratic and Conservative primaries victory, took charge of the press, advertizing and the outreach to the Jewish community, especially in Borough park. Suspiciously, Yeger went from being the campaign manager in numerous well known races to undertaking a small role in the campaign. Yet some insiders who would like to remain unidentified give him credit for quieting down the opposition against Simcha. 

[Side Note: Funny enough, my overall relationship with my boss suffered a setback, and was in jeopardy on some occasions, despite my loyalty to my job and my respect to common sense.]

But Simcha's overwhelming victory is much to contribute to the fact that he managed to set the race that went on defeating a strong opponent, a strong backing within the community, and a deal some say OB initiated with the Republican majority Leader Dean Skelos.

In a presidential year, OB knew not to rely on the comforting advice some in the community gave his candidate, and the Republicans in Albany over the prospect of the race, and the bubble they created  - as if we are looking at a 90-10 race. Had Storobin not gone through the grueling petition period - challenged in court for weeks, and forced to spend over $80K on legal fees; or had Storobin won the Conservative write-in primary, [not to mention the anti-Simcha social media campaign that dropped the oppo research gathered by many, that was stopped in time out of respect for the community], last night's outcome would of been devastating for the Simcha Felder campaign, a less assuring win and weakened marginalized lead. 

OB managed to take on the big guys and a sitting State Senator with grassroots support. Nevertheless, he fell short of crushing the Tishcler brother, who remained on the ballot on the school choice line. But obviously that has zero impact on the race. 

While some will notably jump on the wagon, claim victory for themselves and boost their own credentials and their growing influence within the community, they well know that its not always about the candidate and the message, but about shaping the narrative effectively and confidently believing in the cause.

TIP: If you haven't followed the race closely, you can follow O'Brien Murray on Twitter and check out his archived timeline.

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