Schumer endorses Democratic Socialist in Buffalo mayoral race

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB/AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is endorsing the Democratic nominee for Buffalo Mayor India Walton. In a tweet Thursday evening, Senator Schumer said he’s endorsing Walton because she’s “a community leader, nurse, and mother with a clear progressive vision for her hometown.”

He added that he looks forward to working with Walton and working to bring federal resources to Buffalo and Western New York.

As Buffalo voters start to head to the polls this weekend, I urge them to cast their ballot for India Walton as the next Mayor of Buffalo. India is an inspiring community leader, mother, nurse, and a lifelong Buffalonian with a clear progressive vision for her hometown.

India Walton won the Democratic primary fair and square and is the nominee, and I have always believed that the Democratic party is a big tent and is strongest and most able to build national majorities and bring meaningful change, when it is inclusive – that is exactly how the Senate Democratic caucus is structured. Throughout my career, I have worked long, hard, and diligently to bring federal resources to Western New York and I look forward to doing that with India Walton for the betterment of the people of Buffalo.

Walton, a Black woman and socialist community activist, responded in a tweet saying she’s honored to receive the endorsement and will work with Schumer to “build the safe, healthy Buffalo we all need and deserve.”

In response to Schumer’s endorsement, the Brown for Buffalo campaign—representing incumbent Byron Brown, who lost to Walton in the Democratic primary and launched a write-in campaign with an apparent groundswell of right-wing support—said, “The only endorsement that really matters in this race is from the voters of the City of Buffalo.” In June, Walton defeated the four-term mayor of Buffalo, putting her in a position to potentially become the first woman to lead Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city.

Earlier this week, the chair of the New York Democrats drew calls to resign from members of his own party after he invoked the Ku Klux Klan and its former leader while explaining why he hasn’t endorsed Walton. State Jay Jacobs, who is white, apologized Monday evening for his comments comparing the Democratic nominee for Buffalo mayor to David Duke.

“My statement today on the mayor’s race in Buffalo has obviously caused an uproar that I did not intend,” Jacobs said in a statement released by the party. For her part, Walton tweeted a response:

Jacobs had told a reporter that it’s not a requirement for the chair to endorse the Democratic nominee and suggested a hypothetical, “very different” scenario in which former KKK leader David Duke moves to New York, becomes a Democrat, and runs for the mayor of Rochester.

“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, it just leads you to that question—is it a must? It’s not a must,” Jacobs said. “It’s something you choose to do. That’s why it’s an endorsement.”

Jacobs said in his statement apologizing hours later that he was “using an extreme example” but it was wrong. “I should have used a different example, and for that, I apologize.” Jacobs said he stood by his point that party leaders do not have to endorse every member of their party.

Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other New York Democrats condemned the remarks. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamal Bowman, along with state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi—Democrats who represent parts of Queens, the Bronx, and Westchester County—issued statements calling for Jacobs to resign.

Biaggi, in a Tweet, said Jacobs should step down, calling his statement “outrageously racist.”

“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,” Bowman said.

Hochul described Jacobs’ comments as disturbing and hurtful, but stopped short of calling for his resignation. “I have asked that he apologize. I believe he has apologized. And I’m willing to just assess the situation going forward,” the governor said during a media briefing Tuesday. She has not endorsed either Walton or Brown, but shared excitement to work with the winner of the election.

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