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Gov. Hochul chooses to stay out of Buffalo mayoral battle between India Walton, Byron Brown
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Gov. Hochul chooses to stay out of Buffalo mayoral battle between India Walton, Byron Brown

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Will Gov. Kathy Hochul take a larger role in handling Covid cases upstate or continue leaving it up to local health officials?

ALBANY – Citing the “unique situation” of two Democrats vying to win the general election in the Buffalo mayor’s race, Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday sought to stay on the sidelines in the heated race in her hometown.

Hochul is among a number of top Democrats in New York State who have avoided choosing sides between India Walton, who won the party’s mayoral primary earlier this year, and incumbent Mayor Byron Brown, who is waging a write-in effort after his primary loss.

Some supporters of Walton say party leaders like Hochul have a long-standing obligation to support Democrats who win primary contests.

Hochul, in a New York City news conference this morning, said she is “supporting local parties” and that she will be spending the next several weekends traveling the state backing an assortment of Democratic candidates.

“With respect to Buffalo, we have a unique situation there," she said of the general contest pitting Democrats Walton and Brown against one another.

“I’m going to be looking forward to truly working hard, rolling my sleeves up, with whoever … emerges as the victor. Buffalo’s success is important to me personally. So that is my commitment: I will work with whoever the voters select. It is up to the voters," she said.

Hochul was asked if Brown or any of his advisers had personally asked her to stay out of the Buffalo mayoral race; she did not specifically answer the question.

The governor Tuesday did not join a number of other Democrats who called on Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic Party chairman, to resign. On Monday, in an interview with Spectrum News, Jacobs was asked about the precedent being made by the refusal by himself and other Democratic leaders not to endorse Walton after her primary win.

Jacobs, sharply critical of Walton’s self-identified socialist views, made a comparison between Walton and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, noting that party leaders would not be required to endorse him if he moved to New York and ran for mayor of Rochester. Jacobs later apologized but defended the overall point he sought to make about primary endorsements.

“What Jay Jacobs did was wrong. It was very disturbing, totally unacceptable and it was hurtful. India Walton did not deserve that," Hochul said, not specifically saying if she thinks Jacobs – a holdover from the political structure of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo – should resign.

Hochul said she is glad that Jacobs apologized, hopes he does so personally with Walton “and that something like this does not happen again.”

The controversy was not dying Tuesday, though. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, took to Twitter saying Jacobs "absolutely should resign over his disgusting comments comparing a Black single moth 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 wrote.

The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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