Clark Gable of the Projects
COLIN: Another one of Mr. Fidler’s endorsers, Jack Benton, a former Republican District Leader, told The Politicker he had initially offered his endorsement to Mr. Fidler, but he had done it in an offhand way and was now firmly behind the Republican candidate in the race, attorney David Storobin.
Writing in the Politicker, Colin Campbell recently outlined how a few Rabbis in a list of 266 community members supporting Lew Fidler for the State Senate weren’t actually doing so.
Some of the rabbis claimed they never did make an endorsement. Of those, it appears that some listings may have been the result of miscommunications (Who would post on the internet an endorsement they never had?—That’s a tactic for an Election Day palm card, or a night before lit drop.), while others are certainly lying.
Still other Rabbis admitted to changing their position.
Maybe they just discovered that Fidler differed from them on some social issue, but the more likely scenario is that they were subjected to pressure by those who’d promised to deliver in exchange for the bribes they took from Dean Skelos last spring.
But one listed name who withdrew his support does not belong to a spiritual leader.
Former Republican District Leader Jack Benton is, in fact, a most unorthodox Jew, the sort of reprobate most reminiscent of the protagonist’s father in any number of Mordecai Richler novels.
Back in the 80s and 90s, wearing his wife beater t-shirt with a 10 inch ash hanging off his cigarette, Benton, usually barely employed and hustling a new in an endless series of lines of bullshit, fancied himself the Clark Gable of the Sheephead-Nostrand Projects, although he was more aptly compared to a lean Max Bialystock servicing bored housewives with extremely cheap thrills.
Or at least, so he bragged to me and many others.
Benton was always after a quick buck (GATE: “Jack, do you wanna make some money?” JACK: “Who do I gotta kill”) and things that rhymed with it. But, in his younger days, he was a pretty effective captain for the local Democratic Club, early on recognizing the importance of befriending those neighbors he referred to as “the colored.”
Back the, even though a good many of his neighbors despised him, Jack could deliver a vote, especially in his home quadrant. He also became head of the Tenant’s Association.
However, the petitions Benton collected did tend to suffer from a lack of diligence to details like circulating the right ones in the right quad, giving me the pleasure of telling him at least once (back in the days you had to provide the election district for every signature) that despite his considerable efforts, he did not qualify himself for the County Committee from his home election district.
I was rewarded with a fistful of noogies. Later, when I just said “WTF,” and filled in the wrong ED numbers to facially qualify the County Committee slate in Benton’s home ED, Benton gave me a kiss, which, given he failed to remove the cigarette, was a lot more painful than the noogies.
Upon opinion and belief, just about the time the demographics of Sheepshead-Nostrand turned enough to get Benton voted out as leader of the Tenants’ Association, Benton parlayed his charms, such as they were, into a Republican connection that led to an upgrade in his living accommodations, as well as the other rewards the GOP machine and its members in good standing (perhaps not the best choice of words) could bestow.
Benton’s endorsement of Fidler drew some notice recently in one of my threads.
Seth Lowe: Why is “Jack Benton – Past Republican District Leader – 41st A.D.” listed on a published list of 266 Community Leaders who announced their support for Councilman Lew Fidler for State Senate and authorized their names and, in some case, party affiliations and titles to be used?
Jack Benton’s name and his “former” Republican title clearly appear among the 266 Community Leaders who have publically announced their support for Councilman Lew Fidler for State Senate.
In fact, Mr. Benton is a current member of the Brooklyn GOP Executive Committee and is the party’s “Sergeant at Arms”? In that capacity he virtually ran the set-up and the credentials table for the 2011 GOP County
The real question in all of this is: “What kind of Republican Party is Chairman Craig Eaton running in Brooklyn; when he selects David Storobin as his candidate and one of his key operatives backs Mr. Fidler?”
Gatemouth: Gatemouth will make a rare defense of Craig Eaton.
Upon opinion and belief, Fidler and Benton have known each other personally and have been friendly for over thirty years, from back when Benton was a Democratic captain in the Sheephead-Nostrand projects. I believe Fidler was personally helpful to Benton during some tough times.
Benton's support for Fidler is surely in spite of Eaton, and Eaton probably could not stop it if he wanted to.
Incidentally, Gatemouth goes back with Benton even longer than Fidler.
Actually, I know for a fact Fidler once got Benton a nice paying private sector job with one of his personal business associates.
Virtually everyone knew why Benton endorsed Fidler: gratitude. It is not one of Benton’s highest principles, but it certainly outranks Republican ideology in his pantheon.
And, give or take the dirty details, everyone knows why Benton no longer supports Fidler, which is that gratitude to a former meal ticket must always defer to obedience to the current one.
Meanwhile the GOP made quite a spectacle of itself (see the attached thread) trying to cope with the fact of the Benton endorsement before they succeeded in disappearing it.
“The Eaton Regime guys, Gene Berardelli and Russell Gallo, continued flacking the “story” that Jack Benton did not endorse Lew Fidler. Berardelli said it was a lie, but was soon contradicted by Mr. Gallo. Russell played one of his favorite cards (Jack Benton is a venerable old vet) to walk back Benton’s admitted endorsement of Democrat Lew Fidler. Gallo’s story, and he’s sticking to it, is that Mr. Benton was kidding with Mr. Fidler when Fidler asked for Benton’s endorsement. “… It was certainly something taken out of context…” Where does Gallo get this stuff? Where do these guys get the nerve?”
Of course, as Benton admitted, these were both lies. Benton, as is his wont, followed his instincts without thinking, came to regret it, and then followed the path of his self interest, without even coming up with a decent cover story.
This is all much ado about very little. In my 2006 version of my annual complaint about the GOP not giving voters choices in general elections, I said:
Benton got only 11% against Helene Weinstein (to whom he delivered three of four quads of the projects in a 1982 post-reapportionment primary against another incumbent who had represented that area). Even in a year so formidably Democratic 2006, a GOP showing that poor in southern Brooklyn almost requires effort (though, knowing Benton, none was actually expend).
More noteworthy are two prominent Republican Fidler supporters who’ve not withdrawn their endorsement. One is Bob Tracey a Community Board 18 Member who owns Tracey Real Estate, and was the 2010 Kings County Republican Party – Lincoln Dinner – “Business Man of the Year.” Another is Republican activist Greg Borruso, President of the Marine Park Civic Association. Borruso is close to both Congressman Bob Turner and State Senator Marty Golden.
Both these men are far more important than silly old Jack Benton.
Let me be clear. While I enjoy it when Republican Party officials endorse Democrats, I don’t approve of Party officials of any Party endorsing candidates against their Party’s nominee. It violates a fiduciary duty, and anyone who does it should be removed from their Party office.
That being said, Benton’s support of Fidler was more understandable than most such desertions.
The thing here that rankles me isn’t that Fidler has been in any way disadvantaged; he hasn’t.
What rankles is that once Benton gave an endorsement that he shouldn’t have, he didn’t have the balls to stick with it.
Apparently, Benton's once allegedly prolific balls are now firmly encased in someone else’s purse.
Benton is surely still a character, but as Winston Wolf once noted, “Just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character.”
The man doesn’t have the integrity to stick to his betrayal of his principles (such as they are).
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