Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County and state Democratic committees, criticized some Democratic candidates’ rhetoric as a reason for party losses in legislative and congressional races in New York.
Jacobs, in interviews with the New York Post and City & State, criticized Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comments surrounding the “defund the police” movement. Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who easily won re-election in the 14th Congressional District in the Bronx and Queens, said she believed too much funding has been allocated to the New York City Police Department, which has a $5.6 billion operating budget this year, according to state data.
“I believe the path toward justice is a long arc,” the congresswoman said Thursday to Fox News. “Safety is not just an officer with a badge and a gun.”
“AOC has no standing on how to run a general election in the suburbs and upstate,” Jacobs told the New York Post. “AOC is in a district that’s 6-1 Democrat and she couldn’t find a Republican in her district with binoculars. I invite AOC to come to Long Island and stand for election in one of our districts. You’ll see different results.”
Ocasio-Cortez said being a vocal outlier of the Democratic Party, of which Jacobs is a moderate, does not bother her and she intends to hold “all institutions accountable.”
“I feel very centered and at peace,” she said Thursday. “This is what you brought me to Congress to do.”
Jacobs’ argument of Democrats needing to tone down certain political rhetoric in order to win swing districts or states, has become more prominent among party moderates. Jacobs said certain idealogy and rhetoric can be beneficial in specific political districts, rather than overarching messages applicable to traditional blue and swing districts and states.
“Those ideas play very well in the districts that elect them,” Jacobs said. “They’re not sensitive at times to some of these swing districts. It’s not just congressional. It’s state Senate, Assembly – whatever it may be.”
Ocasio-Cortez countered Jacobs’ claim and said swing-district Democrats who lost focused too much time on ad spending rather than campaigning during the pandemic, tweeting, “Ideology + messaging are the spicy convos a lot of people jump to. Sometimes it’s about execution and technical capacity.”
Both Jacobs’ and Ocasio-Cortez’s views on how Democrats should run and win an election were highlighted in the race between incumbent state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and challenger Dave Franklin, a Republican from Port Washington.
Franklin, who served three terms on the Port Washington Police District’s Board of Commissioners prior to running against Kaplan, seemed to be the most logical choice for law enforcement to heavily endorse. In an October interview with Blank Slate Media, Franklin said he would never think of defunding the police.
“We were proactive with police training in our department, and we had a diverse police force in Port Washington,” Franklin said. “I think we have to concentrate on training across the board.”
Kaplan, who did not directly side with Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks and calls for defunding the police, addressed the good law enforcement offers the public while emphasizing a need for improvements across the board.
“I believe a vast majority of officers who make our community safe are good people,” Kaplan said. “They are there to do a job, to make sure residents are safe. We need to make sure everyone understands no one is above the law here.”
According to Federal Election Commission figures, Kaplan received more than $12,000 in campaign funding from police-affiliated organizations compared with Franklin’s $100.
As of Tuesday, Kaplan led Franklin in the race for the 7th Senate District, 64,202 votes to 58,021, according to the Nassau County Board of Election figures.
The district includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Mineola, Garden City Park, North Hills, Albertson, Old Westbury, East Hills, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Estates, Albertson, Searingtown, Lake Success, Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights, Plandome Manor, and the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.
Officials from the Nassau County Board of Elections did not say when the counting of the ballots would conclude but did say results would be finalized by Nov. 28.
Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner James Scheuerman said 142,962 absentee ballots were cast in Nassau County this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, a figure that shatters the previous record of 48,000 in 2016.