New York is days away from the start of early voting, but top Democrats are not only showing reluctance in endorsing a candidate for the Buffalo mayor’s race, they are also refusing to acknowledge the winner of the Democratic primary, India Walton, as the Democratic nominee.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was pressed on Monday why he hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet in the Buffalo mayor’s race, but he ignored the question.
“Today’s a day to talk about what’s going on in Washington, it’s not a day for politics,” the Senate majority leader said after opening up his press conference to off-topic questions.
When asked if he believes that the candidate who wins the Democratic primary is the Democratic nominee, Schumer again rebuffed the question.
“Other questions, next topic,” Schumer said, scanning the room. When he was met with silence from the other reporters in the room, Schumer still did not answer the question and instead scurried away to his car.
Walton is a self-described Democratic Socialist who beat Democratic incumbent Byron Brown in the Buffalo mayor’s race.
Walton’s win was historic. If she becomes mayor, she would be the first socialist to be elected mayor of a major American city in more than 50 years.
Brown, who was a trailblazer himself as the first Black mayor of Buffalo when he was first elected in 2005, has now, however, launched a comeback write-in campaign for the general election.
Progressives have largely come out to endorse Walton, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Cynthia Nixon, Senator Bernie Sanders and others.
But top Democrats who hold statewide offices, such as Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs have not endorsed either candidate.
Jacobs says either way, a Democrat wins since there is no Republican candidate.
But Jacobs then went a step further and said that just because a candidate wins a primary does not mean the party has to endorse them, giving a hypothetical example of if former KKK leader David Duke were to win a primary in New York.
Full transcript above. And full video clip here: pic.twitter.com/TsMeGTQue9— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) October 18, 2021
“Let's take a scenario, very different, where David Duke, you remember him, the grand wizard of the KKK, he moves to New York, he becomes a Democrat, he runs for mayor in the city of Rochester, which is a low primary turnout and he wins the Democratic line. I have to endorse David Duke? I don't think so,” Jacobs said. “Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category, but 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. Otherwise, they call it something else, like a requirement.”
Jacobs received instant backlash for his comments with many elected officials calling on Jacobs to resign or apologize.
Democratic State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said on Twitter, “Comparing the endorsement of India Walton to endorsing David Duke of the KKK is outrageously racist. You need to resign - today.”
Schumer released a statement saying, “The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd.”
State Attorney General Letitia James also condemned this analogy and said on Twitter, “I fundamentally reject the likening of India Walton, an inspiring Black woman committed to public service, to David Duke, one of the most prolific racists of our time. There can be no place for such rhetoric in New York.”
Head of the Working Families Party Sochie Nnaemeka blasted these comments from Jacobs as well.
“The comparison was so perverse and it only speaks to the fact that for a working class, a woman of color, to be taken seriously, you have to engage in these grand hypotheticals rather than just engage in support,” Nnaemeka explained.
Jacobs did issue an apology later in a statement saying, “Using an extreme example of David Duke winning a primary, to make a logical point, even with stating twice the specific qualification that India Walton, was in a different category, was wrong. I should have used a different example, and for that, I apologize.”
Jacobs also ended the interview wishing India Walton the best no matter the outcome of the election.