ITHACA, N.Y.—As a slate of democratic leaders, officials, organizations and regular citizens call for Jay Jacobs to step down as the state’s party chair, the embattled Cuomo-era appointee has come forward with a counter.
Jacobs shared a letter with City & State featuring over 40 signatures from the state’s Democratic County chairs supporting his position as leader of the state Democratic party. The letter, City & State reported, was still being shared among county chairs as of Wednesday night.
While Jacobs still maintains the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the highest ranks of the county committees, he has been the target of criticism from inside the state’s Democratic party, notably its progressive wing, after the touted mid-term elections “red wave” failed to formulate nationwide but found quite a bit of momentum in New York. For progressives, Jacobs has come to be seen as a disengaged leader who is not doing enough to get out the vote, and has found himself being blamed for Democrats underperforming across the Empire State.
A list of signatories shared by Spectrum News State House Reporter Zack Fink shows that Tompkins County Democratic Chair Linda Hoffman put her support behind Jay Jacobs.
Hoffman said that she feels Jacobs is being unduly blamed. “I don’t agree that it’s Jay Jacobs’ fault. I feel we need to, as the state committee, to look at this […] election and really dissect what happened.” And that’s a conversation Hoffman says she wants Jacobs to be a part of.
“Is he perfect? No, and neither am I, but I respect the leadership he has been giving,” said Hoffman.
Republicans flipped four Democratic congressional seats in New York, marking the largely left-leaning state as one of the few strong examples where the Republican resurgence seemed to live up to the hype.
Based on the unofficial election results — which don’t yet include absentee, mail-in, and affidavit ballot — New York’s Governor’s Race saw just under 2,771,905 votes cast on the Democratic line for Hochul, which would be about 40% of the state’s 6.5 million registered Democrats. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor, saw 2,389,830 votes supporting him along the Republican line, which makes about 82% of the state’s nearly 2.9 million registered Republican voters.
Zeldin was in striking distance of Hochul. According to the unofficial results shared by the New York State Board of Elections, she won by a margin of just over 326,000 votes. Democrat Lea Webb also came close to losing out to her Republican opponent, Rich David in the race to represent Tompkins, Cortland, and part of Broome county in the New York state senate.
According to the unofficial election results, David trailed Webb by only 1,450 votes in the race to represent the 52nd state Senate district, where 60.5% of the vote would have gone toward Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
While Jacobs’ leadership has been blamed by some Democrats underperforming across the Empire State, he has made it clear that he has no intention of resigning.
Cortland County Democratic Committee Chair Tim Perfetti, who signed the letter in support of Jacobs, also doesn’t think it’s Jacobs’ fault that Democrats dominance in New York state politics was put to the test in the last election. The county democrats, Perfetti says, also need to be held accountable.
Perfetti said, “How’s that Jay Jacobs fault that my turnout was low in Cortland, right? That’s a local committee issue.”
In Perfetti’s Cortland County, where registered Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats, turnout outperformed the state in terms of registered voters casting their ballots in the election. Based on the unofficial results, votes on the Democratic line make up about 64% of registered Democrats, but votes cast on the Republican line made up about 74% of registered Republicans in Cortland County, where votes on third-party lines are marginal.
“I know what the progressives are trying to say. I think they’re trying to say that it’s messaging from the top down,” said Perfetti. He cited the Republican narrative that New York’s 2019 bail reform laws have led to rising crime, despite studies that say otherwise, as a message Democrats struggled to beat back.
“They bludgeoned us to death with the bail reform,” said Perfetti, adding that it didn’t help that New York City Mayor Eric Adams adopted this talking point also.
While the letter has the majority of the state’s 62 county chairs’ signatures on it, the missing third would appear to dampen the show of support to some degree. And missing from it are the chairs of the Democratic Committees of Queens and Bronx Counties — strongholds of democratic voters in state elections.
The letter calling for Jacob’s resignation features over a thousand signatures, the bulk of which are individuals, but included are some high-profile state Democrats, like New York City’s Comptroller Brad Lander, and a faction of the state legislature including eleven state senators, and 12 State Assembly members. Ithaca and Cortland’s representative in the Assembly, Anna Kelles, was among them.