The Brooklyn Ink:
Fri, Aug 31, 2012
By Laurent Y. Peter Last March, with little political experience, and running as a Republican in a traditionally Democratic section of Brooklyn, David Storobin narrowly won a special election to replace the disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger in District 27. Now, barely six months later, he is already running for re-election, in the restructured District 17, dubbed by the media as the “Super Jewish” District.
In both of his campaigns, Storobin has relied on the same backbone: his fellow Russian Jews. He has counted on them for votes and campaign contributions, and he has used advertising and strategic partnerships with Russian-language media to reach them.
Senator Storobin greets a passerby in front of his Brooklyn District Office on Avenue U. ( Laurent Y.Peter/TheBrooklynInk)
The majority of Russians in District 27 are Jewish, like Storobin. Russians, and other immigrants from the Eastern Bloc, easily relate to his background; in 1991, he moved with his mother from Russia to Brooklyn with little to their name and he made his way into the middle class by becoming a successful criminal defense, bankruptcy and divorce lawyer.
“It was tremendous poverty growing up, couldn’t afford to take the bus,” Storobin recalled. “I would walk everywhere in Brooklyn if I needed to go to Brooklyn Heights from Borough Park, I would walk.”
Storobin appealed to the broader Orthodox Jewish community by bringing conservative values to the campaign trail with promises to repeal the gay marriage law that passed in 2011, and to seek publicly funded vouchers for religious schools. At the same time, Russian Jews also saw value in Storobin’s support of small business owners. Speaking Russian in television and radio commercials, he often reminded them where he came from and where he is today.
The New York State Board of Elections Campaign Financial Disclosure website reveals that there was a high percentage of persons with last names from Russia – or other parts of the former Soviet Union countries from the beginning of Storobin’s special election campaign up to the most recent July and 32 Day Pre-Primary disclosures. The combined contributions reveal that Storobin has raised $174,244 while his opponent Felder has raised $230,099. Russian first and/or last names contributed $42,850 of Storobin’s contributions this summer, so far.
One of the first contributors, in late December 2011, was Storobin’s mother, Anna Storobinsky, who gave the maximum contribution allowed, $10,300. Ilya Galak, general manager of citizensmagazine.com, a Russian-American magazine distributed with the Staten Island Standard, and founder of the first Jewish Tea Party, contributed $1,000. Galak also received a $2,000 consulting fee from Storobin to produce articles. Michael Kaplinsky — also Russian and chief executive officer of Arecont Vision LLC, a surveillance-video company that gained wide media attention for capturing the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona –provided the largest out-of-state donation with $10,000 in July.Vyacheslav Ripa, a Brooklyn based dentist, also donated $10,000 in July. Gregory Solovey, who moved to Brooklyn in 1989, donated $10,000. Maria Kovalyov, president of Russian-American Foundation gave a small contribution of $150. Other Russian contributions ranged from $100 to $1000.
“He is from the community, he can help us,” Solovey said, “he speaks our language.” [Read more]