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Sasson scraps bid for Gennaro’s Council seat

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Isaac Sasson shelved his bid for City Councilman James Gennaro’s (D-Fresh Meadows) seat this week after dropping nearly $100,000 of his own money into the race.

The retired cancer researcher and lottery winner released a statement through his campaign Tuesday afternoon.

“Isaac Sasson, Democratic candidate for City Council in the 24th Council District in Queens, announced today that he is ending his campaign for public office. Isaac will be focusing his efforts on his philanthropy and his related positions in the Orthodox Jewish community,” the statement said.

At the outset of his run, Sasson had pledged to fund his own campaign.

Consequently, he raised just $281 from seven people, the lowest amount out of the rest of the field, which includes former state Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Briarwood community activist Andrea Veras, Mujib Rahman and lawyer Alexander Blishteyn.

Instead, Sasson spent nearly $89,522 of his own money on advertising, consulting fees and election materials, according to data from the city Campaign Finance Board.

Sasson’s exit means that some votes from the Orthodox Jewish community may be up for grabs.

During his April 28 kickoff event, Sasson incorporated several religious elements into his speech and was endorsed by a number of rabbis from the area.

Morton Povman, the former councilman who represented the district from 1971-2001, also repeatedly pledged his support for Sasson’s candidacy at the event, but stressed it was not simply because of religion.

“I want everyone to know that we’re not considering Isaac the Jewish candidate,” Povman said at the time, “because there are other Jewish candidates in this race.”

And Povman eventually decided to go with another Jewish contender, because a day before Sasson bowed out, the former lawmaker changed course and endorsed Lancman for the seat.

Sasson’s absence from the race means that Lancman, who has been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party, is now the frontrunner in terms of fund-raising with more than $100,000 in the bank.

Blishteyn, who is running as a Republican and is set to have a campaign event with Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and former U.S. Rep. Bob Turner, has about $13,000 raised.

Rahman, who ran a heated campaign as a Republican against Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) in 2009, has raised about $4,000.

Veras, a Democrat and community activist who has tackled crime and vandalism issues in her neighborhood, has raised about $7,000.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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