Democrats Prevail In Queens Special Election

On September 12, 2023, a special election was held in Queens. Voters in Assembly District 27 chose a new member of the New York State Assembly.

In a contest featuring two Orthodox Jewish candidates, Democrat Sam Berger prevailed over Republican David Hirsch. With 99% of precincts reporting, Berger held an insurmountable 55.1%-44.6% lead. According to Hamodia, Hirsch conceded the race shortly after the polls closed. Berger, 25, is a recent law school graduate whose mother, Paula Berger, is a Democratic district leader.

Berger’s victory keeps the district in Democratic hands. The previous assemblymember in District 27, Asm. Daniel Rosenthal (D-Queens), stepped down earlier this year to take a job at a Jewish nonprofit; Asm. Rosenthal endorsed Berger to succeed him.

Assembly District 27 includes large populations of Orthodox Jews and Asian-Americans, and Republicans have made inroads with both constituencies in recent years. While the district is typically held by a Democrat, Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin won 56% of the vote there last year. Accordingly, Democrats were concerned that the district could wind up in Republican hands. As Hamodia notes, “Within the politically conservative Orthodox Jewish community, this election was the latest installment in a long-running debate over whether the community is best-served by electing a Republican who fully embraces and forcefully advocates for its values, or a moderate or conservative Democrat who can advocate for its needs within the super-majority caucus in an Assembly where the minority party has little power.”

Given that Berger enjoyed a massive 10-to-1 fundraising advantage as well as strong support from labor unions, the fact that Hirsch was able to win nearly 45% of the vote indicates that Democrats are vulnerable in District 27. New York City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino (R-Queens) predicted that a Republican would win the district next fall.