NY Democratic Party chairman endorses Gov. Hochul for reelection

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NEW YORK — The chairman of New York’s Democratic Party endorsed Gov. Hochul for reelection Monday, giving her a major boost from the state’s political establishment as she preps for what could become a turbulent gubernatorial primary next year.

Jay Jacobs, who was handpicked for the top state party post by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said he’s backing Hochul because her “pragmatic” and “moderate” political sensibilities make her best suited for the November 2022 general election.

“We have a governor we know can win against any Republican they put up in the fall,” he told reporters during a press conference on Long Island.

Since being sworn in on Aug. 25 in the wake of Cuomo’s resignation, Hochul has also shown she’s an excellent chief executive, Jacobs added.

“She can do the job. We have seen that,” he said.

On the heels of Jacobs’ endorsement, Rich Schaffer, the chair of the Suffolk County Democratic Party, announced his support for Hochul as well.

Hochul welcomed Schaffer’s support.

“Rich knows what it takes to win — especially in tough terrain,” the governor tweeted. “I look forward to working with you to keep Suffolk blue this November and beyond.”

Hochul is the only Democrat who has officially declared she’s running for governor in 2022, and the support from Jacobs and Schaffer could give her an early advantage as other candidates consider jumping into the race.

Among Hochul’s potential primary opponents are State Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio, all of whom have openly mused in recent weeks about wanting to run for governor.

Williams did not take kindly to Jacobs putting his thumb on the scale.

“Jacobs has endorsed in a primary for governor (where he should be impartial) before the rest of us even had a chance to make our case,” the progressive public advocate tweeted.

By contrast, Williams noted that Jacobs has withheld support for a socialist who won a Democratic primary for mayor of Buffalo earlier this year. “As I’ve said, too much remains the same in Albany & I will be undeterred,” he wrote.

Beyond Williams, James and de Blasio, speculation has mounted that Cuomo may be considering a comeback bid for the Executive Mansion in Albany, especially given that he still sits on an $18 million campaign war-chest.

Jacobs, who was one of Cuomo’s most loyal allies until his sexual misconduct scandal, said he hasn’t heard anything about the former governor’s future political aspirations.

However, Jacobs said he gave Cuomo a “courtesy call” before announcing his Hochul endorsement.

“I’m a fan of keeping good relationships with everyone,” he said when asked why he felt the need to keep Cuomo in the loop.

As his scandal swirled this summer, Cuomo initially adopted an apologetic tone, telling his 11 sexual misconduct accusers that he was sorry if he offended them in any way with his actions.

However, since resigning, Cuomo has switched gears and accused James of conducting a politically tainted investigation into the accusations against him.

Shortly before Jacobs offered his support for Hochul, Cuomo released a lengthy statement in which he reiterated his belief that James’ probe was “purely political and personally motivated.”

“From the beginning, this was an obvious effort by some to use Albany political to do what the people of the state would not allow them to do at the ballot box: remove me from office,” Cuomo wrote in the statement.

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