Story at a glance
- New York state Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs apologized on Monday after comparing the Buffalo mayoral nominee to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
- Jacobs made the reference to the white supremacist when asked in an interview with Spectrum News about what kind of precedent is set if state party leadership declined to endorse Walton, a Black woman and self-identified socialist, in her mayoral race.
- After initially doubling down on his comments, which he argued were twisted and taken out of context, Jacobs apologized.
New York state Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs apologized on Monday after comparing Buffalo mayoral nominee India Walton to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Jacobs made the reference to the white supremacist when asked in an interview with Spectrum News about what kind of precedent is set if state party leadership declined to endorse India Walton, a Black woman and self-identified socialist, in her mayoral race.
“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,” Jacobs said.
“I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so. Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category,” Jacobs added. “But it just leads you to that question: Is it a must? It’s not a must.”
Jacob’s statements led to rebukes and calls to resign from elected Democrats, including Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi who said it is “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. Jay Jacobs needs to resign or be removed,” Bowman said in a statement per The Washington Post.
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After initially doubling down on his comments, which he argued were twisted and taken out of context, Jacobs apologized.
“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 said in a statement reported by Spectrum News.
“My statement was to make a point — never to insult or hurt Ms. Walton,” he added.
Walton responded to Jacobs’ initial comments, saying she doesn’t “need the support of disconnected political functionaries.”
“Let’s start with the obvious: I am a working class Black mother, a Registered Nurse, and non-profit executive,” Walton said.
“I was duly nominated by Democratic voters who share my vision of a safe, healthy Buffalo, where everyone has housing, no one has lead poisoning, and City Hall isn’t raided by the FBI,” she continued. “What does it say about corporate Democrats that they can’t tell the difference between that and endorsing the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?”
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