NY Dem Chair Didn’t Mean To Insult Black Lady Socialist When He Compared Her To David Duke

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This summer, India Walton won the Democratic primary for mayor of Buffalo, New York. She defeated the incumbent, Byron Brown, fair and square, without any of the so-called fraud Republicans claim exists whenever they lose an election. However, the New York Democratic Party isn't so sure her victory counts because the nurse and community activist is a self-declared socialist.

Brown refused to concede defeat and is currently running as a write-in candidate. (New York is one of three states without a sore loser law.) He'd tried and failed to appear on the ballot as an independent, but the four-term mayor's supporters shouldn't have too hard a time spelling his name correctly. It's not like he's Lisa Murkowski.

So, Mayor Sore Loser has the advantage of incumbency and (easily spelled) name recognition, but the actual primary winner doesn't even have the support of her party. When asked why New York Democrats weren't rallying behind their nominee — you know, the one who won the most votes during the primary -- state party Chairman Jay Jacobs considered it a brilliant move to compare Walton, a Black woman, to David Duke, a neo-Nazi and former grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan.

No, really.


"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 of the city of Rochester, which is a low primary turnout and he wins the Democratic line. 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."

I wonder if this is the first time a Democratic state party chair has slandered its own nominee a few weeks before the election. Talk about “Dems in disarray."

David Duke is a garbage human who was a member of a known domestic terror group. India Walton believes housing is a human right. Although Jacobs won't endorse Walton, he said in an interview that he respects her and wishes her well regardless of the election's outcome. That's a strange thing to say about someone you just compared to a repulsive anti-semite.

Rep. Jamal Bowman denounced Jacobs's remarks Monday: "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. Jay Jacobs needs to resign or be removed."

New York Attorney General Tish James also spoke out firmly: "I fundamentally reject the likening of India Walton, an inspiring Black woman committed to public service, to David Duke, one of the most prolific racists of our time. There can be no place for such rhetoric in New York."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from New York and Governor Kathy Hochul hadn't yet acknowledged Walton as the winner of the Buffalo mayoral primary, but they both agreed Jacobs stepped out of line with the David Duke analogies.

Schumer said: "The statement was totally unacceptable and the analogy used was outrageous and beyond absurd." Hochul said: "It was very disturbing and totally unacceptable and was hurtful. India Walton did not deserve that." However, she still won't endorse Walton, either, because she's apparently confused about how Democratic primaries work.

HOCHUL: We have a unique situation there and I'm going to be looking forward to truly working hard rolling my sleeves up with whoever emerges as the victor ... I will work with whoever the voters select.

Democratic primary voters already selected a victor, and Hochul is a Democrat. This isn't rocket science. Hochul claims Byron's write-in campaign "allows people to exercise different ways to be considered by the voters in November." It also ignores that primary voters already rejected Byron, and his actions are morally no better than a common Jill Stein spoiler.

Jacobs has apologized for his grossness, but not very well. He concedes he probably should've used a different example than the Klansman when smearing Walton, but he laments how “discourse today is like walking in a minefield." Apparently, pre-Twitter, you could compare Black women to white nationalists and everyone was chill.

However, he stands by the state party's treatment of Walton. He insists endorsements must be earned, as if Walton won the primary on a game show. Democratic voters decided, and the party has rejected their decision. Brown is polling with a big lead. He might keep his job, but the result is that progressive voters would have little reason to trust the Democratic party moving forward. In my less offensive hypothetical scenario, if Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenges Schumer in 2022 and loses, she's expected to accept the results and rally her supporters behind Schumer for the general election. But if by some miracle, she won, the state party can dismiss those results and support Schumer's write-in campaign.

Sorry, but Calvinball doesn't make for good democracy.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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