The chairman of the state Democratic Committee in an interview on Wednesday said he would work to curtail primary challenges and encouraged liberals to keep a big tent for moderates in suburban communities.
“I will be working hard to dissuade people from primaries,” said Jay Jacobs, who Gov. Andrew Cuomo selected as the party chairman earlier this year, replacing Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
This is Jacobs’s second stint as party chairman. He compared primary challenges from the left to the tea party’s attempts to shake up the Republican Party nearly a decade ago.
“I don’t think that’s a particularly effective way to govern — threatening primaries,” he said in an interview that aired Wednesday on Capital Tonight. “I’ve seen that on the far right with the Tea Party. We didn’t like it then and I don’t like it on the far left.”
Foundational changes to New York’s politics were made last year with district-level primary victories by progressive candidates, launching insurgents like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into political superstardom and replacing all but one former members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate.
However, statewide, the progressive primary challenges stalled: Cuomo defeated his challenger, Cynthia Nixon, in a September primary for governor.
Democrats last year captured their first majority in the state Senate since 2009, a majority that is composed of suburban, upstate and New York City lawmakers. Jacobs urged progressive advocates to keep that coalition in mind in order to preserve Senate control.
“Different regions of the state have different constituencies,” he said. “Democrats on Long Island are overwhelmingly far more moderate than Democrats are in some parts of the city. We’ve got to be mindful of that. We can’t forget, we risk losing the majority it took a long time to earn.”