State and Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs apologized on Monday for a political analogy where he compared former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to Buffalo’s mayoral nominee, India Walton.
During an interview with Spectrum News, Jacobs was asked about the precedent set if a Democratic candidate wins a primary race without the endorsement of the state’s party leaders, such as Walton, a Black woman. Jacobs used the hypothetical scenario of the former Grand Wizard, Duke, moving to New York, registering as a Democrat and winning the mayoral primary in a low turnout area like Rochester.
“I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so,” Jacobs told Spectrum News. “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.”
Walton, who has identified herself as a socialist, won the Democratic primary in Buffalo’s mayoral race in June, defeating incumbent Byron Brown. She has yet to receive endorsements from prominent Democratic leaders including Jacobs and Gov. Kathy Hochul. Walton, in a Facebook post, condemned Jacobs’ analogy and said she will continue to push forward with her campaigning.
“I am undaunted, unafraid, fired up, and ready to go,” Walton said. “I don’t need the support of disconnected political functionaries who are more accountable to high dollar donors than to Democratic voters. I have the support of mothers, nurses, teachers, students, essential workers, baristas, stage techs, and local business owners.”
Jacobs subsequently issued an apology, 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.”
Hochul, a Buffalo native who received Jacobs’ endorsement ahead of next year’s gubernatorial election a few weeks ago, said the Democratic chairman’s analogy was wrong but did not call on him to resign.
“I have asked that he apologized,” Hochul said in a news conference Monday. “I believe he has apologized, and I’m willing to just assess the situation going forward.”
Efforts to reach Jacobs or Hochul for further comment were unavailing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement, saying, “The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Jacobs to resign from his position after hearing the analogy.
“Jay Jacobs absolutely should resign over his disgusting comments comparing a Black single mother who won a historic election to David Duke,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “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.”