New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, of Long Island, sent a warning Monday to other possible gubernatorial contenders, specifically those who hail from swing districts, according to former Newsday columnist Larry Levy.
“Jay Jacobs isn’t a household name in New York state, but when a party chairman comes out and unambiguously endorses a candidate, particularly when that chairman is from a swing district of the state, it’s something to pay attention to," Levy said.
Jacobs announced his 2022 endorsements for the top four statewide officeholders in New York.
"I am today announcing my personal endorsement of Gov. Kathy Hochul for election to a full term as our governor. I am also endorsing our current full ticket: Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, Letitia James for attorney general and Tom DiNapoli for comptroller," Jacobs said.
Levy, who currently serves as vice president for economic development and professional studies, and executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said that Jacobs was particularly warning off both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, of Glen Cove. Both are possible Democratic contenders for governor and both hail from Long Island, which any candidate for the state’s top elected office needs to win.
“I think [Jacobs] is saying, ‘guys, it may not be your time,’” Levy explained. “He also may have done an analysis that says, in a multi-candidate race, [Hochul] may in fact be the best candidate to win.”
Other noted Democrats who are eyeing the race include New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who has announced an exploratory committee for governor; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James has strongly hinted that she will make a decision about whether to run “soon."
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Of Jacobs’ unusual decision to announce his endorsements over a year ahead of the election, Levy said, “if you want to be cynical about it, you could say it’s job security. Because if you don’t back the sitting governor who is the real head of the party, you’re not going to be the chairman for very long.”
There is another factor that Levy said cannot be ignored: the interest former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has in running.
“I don’t think it’s much of a secret that Andrew Cuomo would love to be governor again,” Levy said. “I don’t think it’s much of a secret that, if he hasn’t himself, others close to him have reached out to some of his biggest contributors and influential people to say ‘keep your powder dry.'"
It’s not clear, according to Levy, if the ex-governor has a specific plan, but if the Democratic field is wide open, Levy said Cuomo’s entry into the race is possible.
“He’ll have a rationale… and that is that the party is fractured around moderates and progressives, upstaters and downstaters, city and suburbs, ‘and I’m the guy who can come in and put it all together,’” Levy said.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee’s report on allegations of sexual harassment against the former governor, whether Cuomo used state resources to write his book, “American Crisis” and other issues is expected to be released this week.