Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs on Monday went after county comptroller and Democratic candidate for county executive George Maragos, in an open letter headlined “Why I chose not to endorse George Maragos for county executive.”
According to Jacobs, when he agreed to join Maragos at a press conference last year at which the comptroller, then a Republican, announced that he was changing parties to become a Democrat, Maragos did not tell him that he would also be announcing his candidacy for county executive.
“You can imagine how surprised and uncomfortable I was when, standing next to George, at the podium, as he read from prepared remarks, after announcing his change of party, he went on to read his announcement to be a candidate,” said Jacobs. “While I did not, at that moment, conclude that I could not endorse Maragos (my being sandbagged notwithstanding) I did see a manipulative and duplicitous side of him that gave me serious pause.”
In the letter, Jacobs went on to call past statements made by Maragos during his unsuccessful run against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “egregious,” including attacks on the Affordable Care Act, pro-life statements and advocacy for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
According to Jacobs, it was an understatement for Maragos to describe his shifting positions as an “evolution.”
“To have completely switched from his staunchly Tea Party-like conservative positions to now be a self-professed progressive Democrat would have to have been a seismic shift of epic proportions – a political earthquake, if you will,” said Jacobs.
“While George originally vigorously sought my endorsement, now that I have chosen not to endorse him, he has since painted me as an old-style ‘political boss,’ the type of which epitomizes the problems he now campaigns against,” Jacobs added. “That is as much his privilege and prerogative as it is mine to inform you of my reasons for choosing to endorse anyone but him.”
Jacobs has endorsed County Legislator Laura Curran, of Baldwin, for the county executive seat. Curran has run so far on a platform of cleaning up corruption in county government, and, at a forum in March went after Maragos along similar lines as Jacobs did in his letter.
Maragos responded later Monday afternoon, in a statement, calling Jacobs's letter "misleading" and "unbecoming."
According to Maragos, he explicitly said that he was not seeking the endorsement of Jacobs and the committee. Also, Maragos said, Jacobs has been "repudiated" by the Village of Hempstead Democrats for ignoring minority communities.
"[Jacobs] betrays the heart and soul of the Democratic value of inclusiveness by turning his back on someone like me who as an immigrant is more aligned with the base of the Democratic Party that he seems to have forgotten," said Maragos. "I am being very sincere in my 'evolution to Democratic values, as I also had publicly stated in September 2016 with Mr. Jacobs standing next to me and welcoming me to the Democratic Party, including my support of gay marriage, pro-choice and climate change."
The state and county primary elections will be held on Sept. 12. The general election is Nov. 7.