Rumor has it that County Clerk Chris Jacobs is nervous following sweeping losses for the school board’s reform coalition earlier this month. Jacobs has been a chief architect of the reform coalition for years, and is said to be shaken by such staggering losses at the ballot box. He is running for State Senate in the Republican Primary against Kevin Stocker and is said to be worried that he may have misjudged the political climate.
Take the North District, for instance. Jay McCarthy was a popular and non-controversial incumbent with strong name recognition who was elected to represent the district twice. His fundraising was robust and he enjoyed the backing of a well organized community of charter and private school parents. Despite those advantages, he was defeated soundly by a political novice with little name recognition — but with the monied backing of NYSUT.
Jacobs’ natural political base is similar to McCarthy’s and he will need those same Elmwood Village and North Buffalo centrists to turn out if Jacobs is to overcome the district’s Democrat enrollment advantage.
Compounding the political conundrum is Stocker’s support of public schools and NYSUT support of Stocker’s candidacy in the 2012 election cycle. If NYSUT is to retain control of the seat (as they currently enjoy with the one-term Senator Marc Panepinto), they will have to defeat Jacobs in the primary — because his moderate style and centrist views might make him unstoppable in a general election.
In 2012, NYSUT spent over $400,000 to defeat former Senator Mark Grisanti in the primary. If Jacobs is to take the 60th District, he will have to drastically remake the regional narrative around education reform — because, it seems, the issue is not going away and the political tide may (or may not) be receding.
Jacobs did not return a request for comment.