Even before he decided to run for office, Blake Morris had not been shy to criticize his primary opponent: State Senator Simcha Felder. Felder currently represents New York’s 17th Senate District, which includes Midwood, Sunset Park, Kensington, Borough Park and some of Bensonhurst.
Morris, a good-humored, staunchly progressive Democrat, had especially taken issue with the fact that Felder, also a registered Democrat, caucuses with the Republican majority in the New York Senate.
Roughly two years ago, he joined and served as a committee member for NYSD 17, a community organization dedicated to electing a true progressive to Felder’s seat. However, the group’s exploratory committee had difficulty finding a primary challenger, said Morris.
“There’s 325,000 people in this district. 144,000 registered voters, and I couldn’t find a single person,” Morris told Kings County Politics. His lack of success in finding a candidate propelled him to challenge Felder himself.
As a candidate, Morris’ “number one priority” is to “make the state senate Democratic.” He asserts that Felder’s unusual positioning as a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans allows the eight members of the senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to vote against their party’s platform.
In response, Majority Leader John Flanagan approves pork barrel projects and stipends for the IDC members. Their relationship buffers Republican dominance in the senate and allows Flanagan to consolidate control over the chamber. ”Take out Felder, and you take out the eight IDC members,” Morris said.
When it comes to policies, Morris focuses on three h’s: housing, healthcare and hope. “Hope is that you’re going to arrive at work on time. Hope that you’re not going to be stranded at a bus stop or subway platform for a bus or train that never arrives,” he said, explaining what he meant by the vaguest word in his platform.
On housing, Morris has suggested a radical approach to improving the quality of living for those citizens reliant on the New York City Housing Authority’s apartment complexes: taxing banks.
The primary in which Democratic constituents of New York’s 17th Senate District will choose between Morris and Felder will take place on September 13.