Statewide New York Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs is being roundly condemned within the party over a remark he made Monday (Oct. 18) invoking the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), according to the Brooklyn Eagle.
Jacobs told a reporter that as a party chair he is not required to endorse the Democratic nominee, India Walton, who defeated the four-term mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown, in a Democratic primary race. Brown remains in the race with a write-in campaign.
Although Jacobs apologized, party members are still calling for his resignation after he suggested a hypothetical, “very different” scenario in which David Duke, former leader of the KKK moves to New York, becomes a Democrat and runs to become the mayor of Rochester.
“I have to endorse David Duke?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t think so. Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category but it just, it just leads you to that question: is it a must? It’s not a must.
“It’s something you choose to do. That’s why it’s an endorsement,” he said.
Jacobs was condemned by NY Gov. Kathy Hochul, US Senator Chuck Schumer, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats.
Democrats who represent parts of Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County – US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Rep. Jamal Bowman and State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi – all issued statements calling for his resignation.
Ocasio-Cortez called his comments “disgusting.”
Jay Jacobs absolutely should resign over his disgusting comments comparing a Black single mother who won a historic election to David Duke.
India Walton is the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Buffalo. No amount of racist misogyny from the old boys’ club is going to change that. https://t.co/8umSM3jpaP
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 19, 2021
Biaggi said in a statement that Jacobs’ remark was “outrageously racist”.
.@JayJacobs28, what are you thinking? Comparing the endorsement of @Indiawaltonbflo to endorsing David Duke of the KKK is outrageously racist.
You need to resign—today.@DNC, if this is who we think is best fit to represent New York’s Democratic Party, we are in serious trouble. https://t.co/xaXrDws7BN
— Alessandra Biaggi (@Biaggi4NY) October 18, 2021
“This is the malignant narcissism of far too many white men,” Bowman contended in a statement. “Jay Jacobs needs to resign or be removed.”
It’s insane to equate India Walton, a Black woman, with David Duke, someone who supports the legacy of lynching black people and the rape of Black women. This is the malignant narcissism of far too many white men. Jay Jacobs needs to resign or be removed. https://t.co/5QZtQLmBzz
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) October 19, 2021
Jacobs subsequently said that he “should have used a different example, and for that, I apologize,” he said. Nevertheless, he said, he stands by his point that party leaders do not have to endorse every member of their party.
“This is what’s wrong with public discourse today,” he added in a tweet. “People want to find something to be unhappy about, so they twist statements, or ignore statements, to make their argument. That doesn’t make them true.”
“This is what’s wrong with public discourse today – people want to find something to be unhappy about, so they twist statements, or ignore statements, to make their argument. That doesn’t make them true. Read the full comments.” — JSJ pic.twitter.com/vMqFbV2Yvk
— New York State Democratic Party (@nydems) October 18, 2021
Hochul told reporters on Tuesday that since Jacobs had apologized, “I’m willing to just assess the situation going forward.”