Councilman Lew Fidler held a press conference on Avenue J today, joined by Charles Schumer, to announce that the Democratic U.S. Senator is endorsing Fidler in the race to replace State Senator Carl Kruger. But Fidler took a moment during the presser to address the ongoing coverage of his earlier claims that Republican opponent David Storobin has “ties to skinheads and neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist groups.”
“I want to answer that, and my campaign folks would probably tell me that I shouldn’t,” he began. “I never, ever, ever did, or would have, called David Storobin a neo-Nazi.”
“I’m not so internet savvy … I used the word ‘ties’ instead of ‘links,’” he explained. Adding that he “never once raised it in public,” while Mr. Storobin “continues to raise it in public.”
… “Again, he’s responding to comments that I made to a group of young Democrats at a bar, where I thought we were in a private room,” he added. “Look, if I was 25, I’m sure I would have used ‘links’ instead of ‘ties,’ I wish I was 25.”
Indeed, Fidler did make the comments at Wheeler’s in a pep rally-style speech to the Brooklyn Young Democrats, saying that the Brooklyn GOP was making a mistake backing a candidate whose past they hadn’t done their homework on. It had recently come out on the Gatemouth political blog that Storobin’s writings were repeatedly linked to by white nationalist groups. Storobin’s articles mysteriously vanished around the same time his campaign launched.
Fidler wasn’t all apologies, though. He managed to throw a barb at his opponent, saying he’s been using the issue to distract from real issues.
“He’s trying to make an issue out of things that’s not all that relevant to the people who live in this district who are more concerned about whether or not we’re going to have safe streets, clean streets, about whether or not they’re going to be able to afford yeshiva tuition for our kids, how good our public schools are, whether our parks are maintained – all of those issues,” Fidler said. “David Storobin seems to want to talk about anything else. I wonder why.”
Fidler’s got some evidence on his side to back that up. A member of Storobin’s team leaked a four-point “game plan” for their campaign strategy. Top of the list? Focus on Fidler’s “lies about David Storobin.”
“Lew Fidler made repeated, baseless accusations that David Storobin was a neo-nazi who had ties to skinheads,” the Storobin memo states. “After days of spreading despicable lies and suffering the condemnation of Jewish leaders throughout the community, Fidler finally backpedaled…but not because he knows he’s wrong but because he got caught in a lie. If you can’t trust Lew Fidler’s word on David Storobin’s Jewish faith, you can’t trust anything he says.”