In June, Democratic Socialist India Walton pulled off a shocking upset, defeating four-term incumbent Byron Brown in the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Buffalo.
But some prominent members of the Democratic establishment, including state party leader Jay Jacobs, haven’t thrown their support behind Walton.
On Monday, our sister station in Albany asked Jacobs if he plans to endorse Walton against Mayor Brown, who is still running as a write-in candidate.
“Is it a requirement that if someone wins the Democratic primary they must always get the Democratic endorsement of these people?” asked Jacobs. “That’s a question I would answer no, it was not.”
But it was what Jacobs said next which drew the ire of fellow Democrats.
“Look, let’s take a scenario, very different, where David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, he moves to New York, becomes a Democrat and he runs for mayor in the city of Rochester, which has a low primary turnout and he wins the Democratic. Like, I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so,” Jacobs said.
“It’s a appalling that the rightful elected nominee who came out of her primary victorious, a Black working class woman, is being compared to a hypothetical campaign run by a Grand Master of the KKK,” said Sochie Nnamaeka, the director of the New York’s Working Families Party.
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer also slammed Jacobs for his comments, saying, “The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd.”
But earlier in the day Schumer also declined to endorse Walton.
“Today is a day to talk about what is going on in Washington,” Schumer said. “It’s not a day for politics. It’s not a day for politics. I’m talking about what is going on in Washington.”
In a statement, Gov. Kathy Hochul said, "The comparison Jay Jacobs used was very disturbing and clearly unacceptable. India Walton deserves far better, and I'm glad that Jay has apologized."
In his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview on “Inside City Hall,” Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on Jacobs’s remarks, saying, “that’s a horrible and inappropriate comparison.”
Jacobs issued another statement later in the day where he apologized if his remarks caused any offense. However, he also doubled down on the point he was making that he is under no obligation to endorse the winner of the Democratic Primary.