Suffolk County Democratic President Richard Schaffer will approve Governor Kathy Hochul for re-election today, bolstering the new incumbent and urging other moderate Democrats to refrain from joining the race.
Schaffer’s move comes just hours before Jay Jacobs, the Democratic president of the state and county of Nassau, made an announcement Monday morning about the gubernatorial campaign.
Schaffer said Hochul has proven himself to be a “pragmatic problem solver” in the six weeks following the succession of Andrew M. Cuomo, who resigned.
Schaffer called on party members to unite behind the new governor rather than risk a “free for all” Democratic primary in 2022, which he said could allow a far-left candidate to win the nomination and Republicans “open the door to defeat” Next year.
Jacobs hasn’t approved anyone yet, but last week he told Newsday he was making calls and advising potential candidates to give the “new governor a chance to make his mark.” Jacobs, like Schaffer, is in the mainstream of the party and has suggested that a multi-candidate Democratic primary could hurt the party in a general election.
Schaffer’s backing comes as Hochul worked for six weeks and other Democrats are said to be considering campaigns, including Attorney General Letitia James, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and County Director from Suffolk Steve Bellone.
Hochul replaced Cuomo, who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal and a swift impeachment process. She was lieutenant governor for seven years.
“What you see is what you get – a pragmatic, pragmatic problem solver who cares about people and treats everyone with respect,” Schaffer said of Hochul.
“The priorities she immediately devoted herself to are the right ones – tackling the coronavirus pandemic, strengthening New York’s economy so all who want to work hard can be successful, improve public safety, and restore confidence in government. “Schaffer said in a statement. .
Schaffer said he was urging James and state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to stand for re-election, which he said would constitute a “power ticket” for the party which combines “traditional and progressive policies. “supported by a majority of New Yorkers.
A potential rival for Hochul, New York public attorney Jumaane Williams, said he was forming an exploratory committee for the campaign. Williams ran unsuccessfully against Hochul in a 2018 lieutenant governor’s primary, challenging her as not being progressive enough.
Schaffer, in her statement, did not single out any rivals of Hochul but sought to discourage moderate Democrats from challenging her.
“When New York Democrats are faced with a binary choice, the majority choose the moderate option,” Schaffer said. “But if multiple mainstream Democrats – most of whom have little to no political differences with her – lead Governor Hochul, it could create exactly the kind of fractured field that produces an unelected candidate.”
The Suffolk President said his fellow party members should not be overconfident in the Democrats’ 2-1 signing advantage over Republicans, saying a division primary could fracture the party.
“And for those who would say, ‘This is New York, a Republican can’t win here,’ I’d point you to Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont, which are all to the left of New York and all have Republican governors. Schaffer said.