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Long Island progressives call for state Democratic Party boss Jay Jacobs to resign

Desiree D'Iorio
WSHU Public Radio
Progressive activists rally outside the Garden City office of Jay Jacobs, New York's Democratic Party chairman, on Oct. 21, 2021. They want him to resign over his refusal to endorse a Black democratic socialist for mayor of Buffalo and for comments comparing the situation to an endorsement for ex-KKK leader, David Duke.

Progressive activists on Long Island want the head of the Democratic Party in New York to step down over controversial comments he made about his refusal to endorse his party’s nominee for mayor of Buffalo.

They said Jacobs isn’t fit to lead since he won’t endorse India Walton, a self-described democratic socialist who won the mayoral primary in Buffalo. He made comments earlier this week comparing the decision to endorsing former KKK leader David Duke. Walton is Black.

About two dozen progressive activists rallied outside Jacob’s Garden City office, where he also serves as Nassau County Democratic Chair, to call on him to resign from his state and local post. They chanted, “No more racism on Long Island.”

“This should be a non issue,” said Shoshana Hershkowitz of Suffolk Progressives. “They should be supporting the Democratic nominee on the ballot because we hear ‘vote blue no matter who’ all the time. Well, [India Walton] won the Democratic nomination. It's time for the Democratic Party to practice what it preaches.”

Jacobs has since apologized for the remark. He said he should have chosen a different analogy, but has yet to endorse Walton. Walton and New York Governor Kathy Hochul have both said they accept his apology.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who also condemned Jacobs' remarks, has endorsed Walton. Hochul, a Buffalo native, has not.

Activists said Jacobs’ comments and his refusal to endorse Walton show he’s not capable of uniting diverse swaths of Democratic voters across New York.

“Here in Long Island, we live in one of the most racially and socioeconomically segregated regions in the country,” said Nia Adams of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “And the fact that he doesn't understand that, and he doesn't understand why his comment is inappropriate, means he does not understand his office.”

Other New York Democrats, including U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, have also called for Jacobs to step down.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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