Governor Hochul responds to Democratic endorsement debacle

Hochul in Brownsville
Governor Kathy Hochul answers questions about her endorsement from Jay Jacobs, at an event at the Brownsville Recreational Center.
Photo by Morgan C. Mullings

Governor Kathy Hochul is too busy running the state to look at emails.

That’s what she told reporters after an event in Brownsville on Oct. 4 — a gaggle eager to hear the governor’s thoughts on Jay Jacobs’ endorsement of her.

Jacobs, the state Democratic chair, holds a lot of weight in the 2022 governor’s race, and appeared to throw it around when he gave former Governor Andrew Cuomo a call Monday to let him know that he’s endorsing Hochul. He was soon accused of trying to shut other Democratic candidates out too early in the race.

On the same day as the endorsement, Cuomo, who was ousted over sexual assault allegations, sent out a campaign email that can’t be pegged as for or against Hochul.

“This is not New York at her finest and we must never settle for less than the people of the state deserve.” the email reads.

The current governor claims she hasn’t seen it.

“I’m happy to have the support of Jay Jacobs but again, I’m so focused on COVID,” Hochul said.

She followed up by saying she doesn’t know the circumstances of Jacobs’ conversation with Cuomo, nor is she involved. 

“I am all consumed by protecting this state and that is going to be my laser focus. I’ve said from the beginning: I’m direct and decisive and I’m not distracted, Hochul said.

In the race for governor her most likely opponents are Attorney General Letitia James, who is credited for the investigation that removed Cuomo, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who had a lot to say about the incident today in a statement. 

“Jay Jacobs’ efforts to shield the current power brokers and power structures from a challenge aren’t remotely surprising,” Williams said. “His role, and that of the highest ranking Democratic officials in our state, should be to uplift Democratic candidates, Democratic voters, and democratic values.”

Williams recently announced that he has formed an exploratory committee for a run for governor in 2022, while James has not confirmed that she will enter. 

Williams called this tactic for incumbency protection “cynical” and said that a better course of action would be to remain impartial. 

Though Hochul was hesitant to respond to the controversy Monday, she confirmed that she hasn’t spoken to Cuomo about it. “I’ve got a lot on my plate,” she said.