As early voting in New York neared its close Sunday evening, a line of voters, almost entirely haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, remained wrapped around the block in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, where influential community leaders have come out strongly for Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, for governor.
Residents who were unable to vote on Shabbat waited up to an hour to cast their ballots on Sunday. Similar lines were seen in other Brooklyn neighborhoods.
The numbers of haredi Jews turning out to vote in the midterm election were unparalleled. But everything about the battle for governor is unusual, and it is the first time the state’s gubernatorial race is tight in decades.
As the close contest between Zeldin and incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democratic, heads into its last day of the campaign, the winner could come down to who better mobilized Orthodox Jewish voters. Appealing to the haredi electorate has boiled down to two fundamental issues: frustration with New York City’s increased crime and ongoing state attempts to regulate yeshiva schools.
Numerous key hassidic groups endorsed Zeldin over the past week, resulting in the Long Island congressman’s gain on the once heavily favored Democratic front-runner, who replaced former governor Andrew Cuomo after he resigned amid sexual-harassment charges in 2021.