Many Orthodox and religious Jews retreat to Catskill bungalows for the Summer months, and Democratic hopeful Sal Albanese, failing to gain much traction in the New York City mayor's race, stumped in the Catskills the last two days in an effort to court Jewish voters. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Sal Albanese's opening spiel kind of said it all.
"I'm Sal Albanese, I'm running for mayor of New York City, and I've come up to the Catskills to meet with Jewish voters," he said.
With the late edition of Anthony Weiner to the Democratic field and the recent arrival of former Governor Eliot Spitzer to the comptroller's race, it's been difficult for Albanese to garner any attention in his mayoral bid.
"Those guys have sucked the oxygen out of the campaign, no doubt about it," he said. "But I feel pretty good. Our volunteer base is growing every day. We don't have as much money as our opponents, but I think people in the city are paying attention."
The former city councilman, who represented the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, is the first mayoral candidate to publicly campaign in the Catskills. He met with members of the Satmar Sect and other religious Jews who hail from neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Borough Park.
Although the event was about 100 miles from New York City, and rotting trash on the streets and the screech of the subways are probably very far from people's minds up here, interestingly enough, when Albanese talked to voters, some of the issues they brought up were the same as if they were in, say, downtown Brooklyn.
The most common complaint Albanese received was about affordable housing, particularly in Williamsburg, where many people have been priced out as luxury condos going up for newer residents.
"Everyone has families who are eight or nine kids. I mean, it's big," said one voter. "And that's why we are extremely tight on housing. We have no room in apartments. For example, me, I have three kids, and we are extremely tight."
Albanese was joined in the mountains by his wife Lorraine, who helped reach out to women who are forbidden to shake a man's hand as part of their religious observance.
"Yes. Yes. And that's why I came," she said. "And I'm glad I did."
When it came to actually tallying how many votes he might get from the visit, one summer resident told NY1 that the candidate just needs to get in good with the local Rabbis.