kagan

Council Candidate Ari Kagan

Fierce campaigning and bitterness is quickly becoming the hallmark in the battle to win the departing Michael Nelson’s City Council seat. Politicker is reporting that Democratic candidate Ari Kagan and Republican David Storobin are running tough campaigns to win over the predominantly Russian voting block in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Both Kagan and Storobin played host to mayoral hopefuls touring Brighton Beach over the weekend. Storobin enjoyed an endorsement by Republican front runner Joe Lhota while Kagan took Comptroller John Liu to the Tatiana Restaurant. Kagan was quick to downplay Lhota’s endorsement of Storobin as a transparent ploy.

“[Mr. Storobin] will play the Giuliani angle,” Kagan told Politicker, “He will say, ‘This is the guy who worked for Giuliani, he is endorsing me.’ People are very sophisticated, especially in Russian-speaking communities and in Orthodox Jewish communities, American and Chinese communities … people are not stupid.”

Storobin responded by attempting to discredit Kagan’s credibility, lack of experience and ability to drive a car.

“The guy has never had a full-time job in his life. That gentleman has been campaigning for about 15 years. And like I said, he’s never had a full-time job in his life. He doesn’t even own a driver’s license. For a 46-year-old, I don’t know if that’s too much work experience,” Storobin said.

Politicker described the history of the two men’s rise to the political scene and why they dislike each other so much:

Mr. Kagan and Mr. Storobin are emblematic of the emerging political clout of Russian-Americans in Brooklyn. Running in a district represented by the term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson–who replaced current mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner when Mr. Weiner was elected to Congress in 1999–the two candidates saw their electoral fortunes rise when the district’s lines were redrawn this year to rope in larger numbers of Russian-speaking voters in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. (Advocates from the Orthodox Jewish enclave in Midwood despaired, fearing a new “super Russian” district would dilute their power base and ensure that the district’s next representative would be less responsive to their needs.)

The hatred between the two men, who both profess close ties to Orthodox Jews, can at least partially be traced to a Russian media mogul. Gregory Davidzon, the owner of an oft-listened to Russian language radio station, is an unabashed political enthusiast, offering endorsements, mailings and robo-calls on behalf of favored candidates. Mr. Kagan, the near victor of a 2006 Assembly race, is one of those candidates; Mr. Storobin is not. When the young attorney upset the Davidzon-backed Councilman Lew Fidler in a drawn-out special election last year, he shocked Mr. Davidzon and much of the political establishment.

The battle over credibility and relevance in the community seems to be an especially sore focal point for both candidates to the point where their remarks exude an almost stubborn childishness. For example, Storobin went on to paint Kagan as an out-of-touch candidate whose supporters are all elderly non-English-speaking Russians.

“Again, he is known almost strictly to the elderly Russian people who listen to one radio station because they don’t speak English.” Storobin told Politicker. ”Everyone who knows English knows me better … Even with the younger Russian people–and by younger I mean anyone under 65–they all know who I am. Nobody outside of the Russian retirees knows who he is. Literally has next to zero name ID.”

In response, Kagan noted that he became involved in community matters as soon as he arrived to America in 1997.

“I think I know local issues significantly more than him,” Kagan said. “I was at the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Park [in Sheepshead Bay] for example, in 1997 … Ask anybody in 1997, if they ever heard his name anywhere. He said, ‘I was young,’ but I came to America when I was 26 years old and I became involved the very next day.”

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Can’t they wait until the primaries to engage in open warfare. Of course, that predicates upon Kagan’s winning the primary. Apparently they want the opportunity to attack each other.

    Doesn’t make either look too good. But I am not surprised.

  • Common Sense

    Real candidates are supposed to stick to the issues and not attack each other. The only time you need to fight is for the Community!!

  • guest

    Talk about lack of fact-finding.

    Kagan came to the country in ’93 and worked at Russian Forward after graduating from Baruch College. If I had to guess, he’s probably worked more in the past 5 years than Storobin has his entire life in between his radio show, TV show, journalism and his political affairs….

    Not surprised to see them bickering but what do you really expect.

  • Tuth

    Looks like Storbin has been reading my posts on this site. I have been posting for some time now that Kagan’s only followers are Russian senior citizens. In fact a few weeks ago I saw him yet again running to hug Russian grandmas at the holocaust park he talks to much about. Honestly I think there should be a statue of Kagan at the park hugging an eligible-to-vote Russian grandma.

    Storbin is of course no prize either. He spends two days in office and suddenly he is a community expert. Between the two idiots Kagan probably has more knowledge of this area, which doesn’t say much. Ohhh, perhaps Storbin means his own experience after Sandy, when he went around the area’s community centers looking important while fiddling his cell phone and promising to help but of course didn’t do squat.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      I’m sure that he noticed this as well. He does fancy himself a political strategist and observing the opposition is part of the job description.

  • Tamara

    Ari, please use your brain or what ever you have, before to say anything.

  • Michael

    Sorry for the long post, but… I came to this country from
    Russian 20 years ago. I came to become an American, so I do not care if my
    representative in a city government speaks Russian. I care for brain,
    knowledge, willingness to help. I do not know Kagan or Storobin personally. I’ve
    heard Kagan few times on the Russian radio. Was not impressed at all. I’ve
    heard Storobin on the other radio, the same impression. The fight those two got
    engaged in is nothing but an embarrassment. These two candidates are an embarrassment.
    Kagan has no experience, no knowledge, and no language skills. He should stay
    where he is-Russian media. Storobin is also an empty suit with the big ego. If
    I make it to the poll on September 10, I would vote for Chaim, at least he has an experience and
    most important a record of work not empty BS.

  • east 17th

    Zzzzzzzz, these two are a joke and on a power trip.

  • david

    So poor community. We couldn’t get any normal candidate in all district s.
    Something wrong with us.