Watch CBS News

NYS Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs Apologizes For Comments About Buffalo Mayoral Primary Winner India Walton

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is controversy over comments from the chairman of the New York State Democratic Party about a Democratic mayoral primary candidate in Buffalo.

And now, he's apologizing.

The victory by India Walton over a four-term incumbent in the primary has made it difficult for Democratic officials to choose sides, because of her socialist agenda.

Walton defeated incumbent Byron Brown, but top moderate Democrats have declined to endorse Walton, who calls herself a Democratic socialist.

State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs took it a step further, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported Tuesday.

"Let's take a scenario, a 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 has a low primary turnout, and he wins the Democratic line. I have to endorse David Duke? I don't think so. Of course, India Walton isn't in the same category," Jacobs said on Spectrum News.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman and others called on Jacobs to resign, saying in a statement, "It's insane to equate India Walton, a Black woman, with David Duke, someone who supports the legacy of lynching Black people and the rape of Black women. This is the malignant narcissism of far too many white men."

"I want Jay Jacobs to go online tonight and Google images of African-American lynchings in this country. Google Emmett Till and look at that picture and print that picture out and post it on the wall in your office so you are reminded every single day what African Americans had to go through in this country and are still going through because of comments like that," Bowman said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also said Jacobs should resign, calling the comments disgusting and adding, "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."

Political analyst David Birdsell said it's not clear if Jacobs will be able to hold on to his job.

"It's so clashing, so jarring, and so wrong," Birdsell said of Jacobs' comments. "This is something he's going to be apologizing for for a long time, if indeed he is able to hold on to office."

Jacobs has 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."

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has been endorsed by Jacobs, said what he did "was wrong" but would not call for his resignation.

"I have asked that he apologized. I believe he has apologized, and I'm willing to just assess the situation going forward," Hochul said.

But Jacobs also said he stands by his argument that not every candidate who wins a primary is entitled unquestionably to an endorsement. He said it is earned by the policies the candidate puts forward.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.