Hundreds call for NY Democrats party chair Jay Jacobs’ ouster in letter to Governor Hochul

Jay Jacobs, Hochul
New York State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs.
Photo by Briana Bonfiglio/Long Island Press File

State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs is on very thin ice with hundreds of New York Democrats.

That’s at least according to a letter penned by scores of state and city lawmakers, as well as members of the state party, calling for Jacobs’ ouster after the Democrats suffered several key local losses in last week’s midterm elections. 

The authors of the letter are taking Jacobs and the state Democratic Party as a whole to task, charging that they didn’t do nearly enough to help Democrats up and down the ticket, leading to the considerable losses in Washington and Albany. The dispatch was sent to Governor Kathy Hochul, urging her to remove Jacobs as chair if he doesn’t resign on his own.

“The State Democratic Party – led by [former Governor Andrew] Cuomo appointee Jay Jacobs – failed to commit the time, energy, and resources necessary to maintain our deep-blue status: Four Congressional seats flipped to Republican control, and Governor Hochul won by a slim majority — the smallest in two decades,” the letter read.

“The writing is on the wall and has been for some time: Jay Jacobs is not fit to serve as chair of the State Democratic Party, and it’s time for Governor Hochul to work with the party to elect a focused, determined, unifying party leader,” the letter continued.

The letter was signed mostly by progressive Democratic lawmakers such as state Senators Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn), Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens) and Robert Carrol (D-Brooklyn) and city Comptroller Brad Lander. Plus, a few of more moderate officials such as Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D-Queens).

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to supporters during her election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When it comes to Democrats’ losses, the letter is referencing three Congressional seats Republicans flipped from blue to red, as well as an open seat they captured, on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley; and Hochul’s narrow margin of victory over her GOP challenger – outgoing Congress Member Lee Zeldin — in the closest New York gubernatorial since former Republican Governor George Pataki overcame three-term incumbent Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Probably the most striking of the Congressional losses was Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s defeat at the hands of Assembly Member Mike Lawler in the 17th District. Maloney had decided to run in CD17 instead of his current 18th District after this year’s redistricting, because he thought he’d fare better against a Republican challenger there.

While control of the House still hangs in the balance, those losses could be key to a Republican takeover.

Democrats are also in danger of losing their super majority in the state Senate after Republicans picked up several seats – three on Long Island. And while their supermajority in the Assembly is safe, Democrats suffered unforeseen loses in southern Brooklyn, where longtime Assembly Members Peter Peter Abbate and Steven Cymbrowitz were soundly defeated by Republicans Lester Chang and Michael Novakhov respectively.

The letter cited several issues with Jacobs’ leadership over the past year, including his attempt to launch a new third party in the state – with the intention of helping Hochul win reelection; comparing last year’s Democratic nominee for Buffalo Mayor – Democratic socialist India Walton, who lost in the general election to Mayor Byron Brown – to former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke; and not using party resources to back the passage of three 2021 statewide ballot measures aimed at expanding voting access – none of which passed.

But it doesn’t seem like top Democrats are eager to make the changes those signed onto the letter are seeking any time soon. Last week, during the Somos conference in Puerto Rico, Hochul told reporters that Jacobs “did a great job as chair” – pointing to her own win over Zeldin as evidence – and that she has no plans to shakeup party leadership.

“All I look at after my team’s played on a Sunday is who’s in the win column and who’s in the loss column, and I’m really proud and humbled to be able to represent the people of this state,” Hochul said, according to a report from Politico New York

“I think he did a great job as chair, and he continues as chair,” she added. “We’re not changing anything.”