Both state and federal representatives admonished Jay Jacobs' statement about endorsements.
Jacobs initially doubled down and implied that his statements were twisted during public discourse.
India Walton, a candidate at the center of the controversy, called Jacobs' words "indefensible."
New York State Democratic Party (NYSDP) Chairman Jay Jacobs sparked a wave of backlash with his response to a question about why top Democrats have yet to endorse several Democratic primary winners, including India Walton, a socialist candidate for mayor of Buffalo, New York.
When asked about the precedent it would set if Democrats fail to endorse a candidate that won their primary, Jacobs responded that it's not a requirement, explaining further with an odd hypothetical: What if David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, moved to New York, became a Democrat, runs for mayor of Rochester, and wins the party's primary?
"I have to endorse David Duke? I don't think so. Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category, but it just leads you to that question. Is it a must?" Jacobs said in a video shared by Spectrum 1 News.
Outcry ensued from state and federal representatives, including US Rep. Jamaal Bowman, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Both Bowman and Biaggi called for Jacobs' resignation.
-Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) October 18, 2021
Even Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer chimed in on the incident, calling Jacobs' statement "totally unacceptable," as well as "outrageous and beyond absurd," Spectrum 1 News reported.
Jacobs initially doubled down, tweeting out a transcript of his words with underlined portions for emphasis.
"This is what's wrong with public discourse today - people want to find something to be unhappy about, so they twist statements, or ignore statements, to make their argument. That doesn't make them true. Read the full comments," Jacobs tweeted from the NYSDP Twitter account.
-Zach Williams (@ZachReports) October 18, 2021
Hours later, NYSDP sent out a press release where Jacobs apologized for referencing David Duke in his response and said he should have used a different example. Still, he maintained his stance on party endorsements of primary winners.
"The problem with civil discourse today, and political debate in these times, is that there are those less interested in the discussion and more interested in causing controversy. Discourse today is like walking in a minefield," Jacobs said in the statement.
While Jacobs said he looked forward to meeting with Walton despite the outcome of the election, Walton said that his statements were "crude" and "indefensible."
"I should not have to defend why I am not in any way comparable to David Duke, a militant white supremacist, and anti-Semite; a man who would celebrate my death," Walton tweeted. "Jacobs and many corporate Democrats like him still are refusing to endorse our campaign, despite our primary victory among the Democratic voters they are allegedly accountable to."
-India Walton For Buffalo (@Indiawaltonbflo) October 18, 2021
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