Jay Jacobs, state Democratic Party chairman, is aggressively trying to clear the primary field for Kathy Hochul’s first run for a full term as governor.
But Jacobs is also the Nassau County party chairman, a post he claimed in 2001 after Tom Suozzi, then the mayor of Glen Cove, beat Tom DiNapoli, then a state assemblyman, in Democratic primary for county executive. Jacobs, who was Suozzi’s campaign chairman, replaced Larry Aaronson, who supported DiNapoli.
Suozzi went on to serve two terms as county executive. His fortunes and those of Jacobs seemed to rise in tandem.
But are Suozzi and Jacobs now replaying the split in the Nassau Democratic ranks that surfaced more than two decades ago — or is it just the politics of the moment?
Last week, Jon Kaiman, former North Hempstead Town supervisor and a longtime ally of Suozzi and Jacobs, announced that he was jumping into the race for Suozzi’s CD3 seat. The subtext: Suozzi is not dropping out of the governor’s race to run again for the seat. Score one for Suozzi.
A few days later, Jacobs hit back, rounding up the LI State Senate delegation for a joint announcement that all of those in Suozzi’s backyard were unanimously supporting Hochul. And on Tuesday Jacobs, who wants to continue as state party chairman, pushed it a little more, predicting Suozzi would drop his bid for governor by Feb. 1 because he is not raising enough money and lacks union support.
Kim Devlin, a senior adviser to Suozzi’s gubernatorial bid who worked closely with Jacobs in pulling off the 2001 upset in the county executive primary, had a scathing response. "Voters could care less about mutual backscratching endorsements, but they do care about candidates who will take on crime, the Manhattan DA’s disastrous policy of not prosecuting serious crimes, too high property taxes and a better response to COVID. While Hochul is hiding behind the establishment, Tom Suozzi is the only candidate talking about the issues and offering solutions," she said in a statement.
And if Suozzi was to upset Hochul in a primary and go on to be governor, what happens to Jacobs this time after a Suozzi win?