Gov. Hochul is sticking by the embattled head of the state Democratic Party amid calls for him to resign after he compared the party nominee for Buffalo mayor, India Walton, to the former head of the Ku Klux Klan.
“What Jay Jacobs did was wrong. It was very disturbing, totally unacceptable and it was hurtful. India Walton did not deserve that,” Hochul told reporters Tuesday when asked about the state party chairman’s refusal to endorse Walton, who is black, comparing the choice to backing former KKK leader David Duke.
“I’ll tell you, I’m glad he apologized. I hope he apologizes to her personally, and that something like this does not happen again.’
When pressed to explain her rationale for standing by Jacobs and keeping him on as party chair — despite calls from multiple Democrats for his ouster — she said the apology, for now, is sufficient.
“I have asked that he apologize, I believe he has apologized, and I’m willing to address the situation going forward,” she added.
Left-leaning Bronx Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez slammed Jacobs — a white moderate who also chairs the Nassau County Democratic Party — calling for him to step down.
“Jay Jacobs absolutely should resign over his disgusting comments comparing a Black single mother who won a historic election to David Duke. 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,” she tweeted.
It’s the second time this month Jacobs has attracted unwanted spotlight, forcing the new governor to respond on his behalf.
Just two weeks ago, the party boss held a highly publicized press conference on Long Island announcing his personal endorsement of Hochul’s 2022 re-election bid.
But he let slip that he first made a “courtesy call” to disgraced, ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, giving him the heads up regarding his backing that very day, just before making the news public.
The news drew ire from critics — including several women who accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct, who made allegations published in state Attorney General’s bombshell sexual harassment report released in August.
Hochul at the time dismissed Jacobs’ actions as “distractions.”
But Jacobs came under the microscope again on Monday, defending his refusal to endorse in the Buffalo mayoral race to Spectrum News NY1, arguing his backing is unnecessary.
“I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so,” Jacobs said, referring to the KKK leader who was elected to the Louisiana house of representatives in a special election in 1989.
“Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category, but it just leads you to that question – is it a must? It’s not a must.”
He apologized later that day, following backlash from pols such as US Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of The Bronx.
“The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd,” said Schumer on Monday.
The race garnered attention after incumbent Mayor Byron Brown refused to drop his candidacy after losing the June primary to Walton, and instead running as a write-in candidate in the November election.
He’s been endorsed by Long Island Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi who declared the move is an effort to “defeat the socialists” — a nod against other big name Democratic socialists, like AOC.
Hochul on Tuesday declared she will officially stay out of the race ahead of the general election, calling the race a “unique circumstance.”
“We have two Democrats running in most races we have — we have Democrat versus Republican in November,” she explained.
“I didn’t weigh in.”
“My position is: I will support whoever emerges from that election and they will consider me a strong partner because I need them to be successful, he or she, I need them to be successful, it’s important for not just my hometown, but the entire state of New York,” she said.
“Instead of @JayJacobs28 apologizing for comparing @Indiawaltonbflo to a KKK leader & @GovKathyHochul and other Dem leaders saying it was wrong…what if they, you know, endorsed the Dem Nominee in the Mayors race running against a candidate (LITERALLY) backed by Trump Republicans,” tweeted NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — who is also exploring a potential 2022 gubernatorial run against Hochul.
A request for comment from Walton’s campaign was not immediately returned by The Post.