Christopher Jacobs (politician)

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For other people named Christopher Jacobs, see Christopher Jacobs (disambiguation).

Christopher L. Jacobs (born 1967) was Secretary of State of New York and was twice a candidate for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of New York as the running mate of both former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld in 2006 and Steve Levy in 2010. Jacobs is currently the County Clerk of Erie County, New York, having defeated Maria Whyte in the November 2011 elections.

Secretary Jacobs is a member of the prominent Jacobs family in Buffalo, which owns the Delaware North Companies, including the Boston Bruins hockey team. He is a nephew of businessman Jeremy Jacobs. He is a graduate of Boston College, holds a masters degree from American University, and a law degree from the University at Buffalo. He served as Deputy Commissioner of Environment and Planning in the administration of Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. He is a developer in Buffalo, where he has been active in redeveloping Main Street in downtown Buffalo.

Secretary Jacobs has been involved in numerous community activities in Buffalo, especially in the area of education. He is an advocate for the creation of charter schools. Jacobs co-founded the BISON Scholarship Fund (Buffalo Inner-city Scholarship Opportunity Network) in 1995. The BISON Fund provides scholarships to City of Buffalo residents to attend private grade schools. His community work includes promoting other educational activities in local income areas of Buffalo. In 2004, he was elected as an at-large member of the Buffalo Board of Education.

In February 2006, Secretary Jacobs was the Republican nominee in a special election for the State Senate for a seat representing Buffalo and Niagara Falls. He waged a strong campaign in this heavily Democratic district and lost to Democrat Marc Coppola. In 1995, Secretary Jacobs lost a race for the Erie County Legislature.

New York Secretary of State[edit]

He was appointed to the secretary of state's office on April 19, 2006, by Governor George Pataki. As secretary of state, Secretary Jacobs was in charge of preserving state records, registering corporations, administering local government policies, working on coastal development programs, regulating professions such as real estate, hair dressers and cosmetics, regulating cemeteries, overseeing state ethics, regulating boxing, and overseeing open government policies. As secretary of state, he served as the Chairman of the New York State Real Estate Board and as Chairman of the Wireless 911 Emergency System Board.

During his time as secretary of state, Secretary Jacobs took an active role in the development of the Niagara River Greenway, which is a new park being developed along the Niagara River. In addition as secretary, he toured the state promoting local government issues and fire safety. He handed out several grants statewide to promote downtowns and coastal development. While serving as secretary of state, he continued to served as a member of the Buffalo Board of Education.

Campaign for Lieutenant Governor[edit]

Weld announced his selection of Secretary Jacobs as a running mate on May 31, 2006, the opening day of the Republican State Convention on Long Island. Weld's choice of Secretary Jacobs was considered a surprise, since Secretary Jacobs is not well known statewide. Prior to Weld's announcement, newspapers speculated that Weld would either choose Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks or Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray for lieutenant governor.

Weld said he selected Secretary Jacobs because of Jacobs' work on education issues and upstate economic development. He said he wanted highlight economic development in upstate New York during his campaign and Secretary Jacobs' background in Buffalo would be a benefit. In addition, he praised Secretary Jacobs' education advocacy. Weld praised Secretary Jacobs for being an "Albany outsider" and that the two were "strangers to the halls of Albany.'" Weld had previously been governor of Massachusetts, while Secretary Jacobs' family owns the Boston Bruins. At the time he was selected as Weld's running mate, Secretary Jacobs had been serving as secretary of state for six weeks.

Following his selection by Weld, newspapers reported that Secretary Jacobs had switched in the late 1990s from being a Republican to being a Democrat. He then switched back to the Republican Party a year later. Secretary Jacobs indicated he made the party switch for personal and not political reasons. In addition, newspapers reported that in the summer of 2004, Secretary Jacobs donated $250 to the gubernatorial campaign of Democratic State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Secretary Jacobs said he made the donation before Weld announced that he was running for governor and now supported Weld for governor.

The week before Secretary Jacobs' selection by Weld, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso announced his selection of Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef as his running mate. Secretary Jacobs faced Vanderhoef during the Republican State Convention to be designated to be on the September primary ballot for lieutenant governor. The third candidate, Tim Demler, supervisor of the Town of Wheatfield, withdrew, during the convention, for the good of the party to try and avoid a divisive primary. Demler had been running for lieutenant governor independent of any candidate for governor.

The state convention placed both Secretary Jacobs and Vanderhoef on the primary ballot by a voice vote. The convention also designated Faso for governor over Weld, but gave Weld a spot on the primary ballot. Though he announced that he and Secretary Jacobs would launch their primary campaign with a statewide bus tour starting in Buffalo, on June 6, Weld dropped out of the governor's race and endorsed Faso.

On June 8, Secretary Jacobs announced he was withdrawing from the lieutenant governor's race and backed Vanderhoef.

2007 Erie County Executive's Race[edit]

Following his withdrawal from the lieutenant governor's race, Secretary Jacobs was rumored to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for County Executive of Erie County, New York. The incumbent, Republican Joel Giambra, was retiring after two terms in office. After exploring the race and meeting with possible backers, in late January 2007, Secretary Jacobs announced he would not be running for county executive, saying he wanted to focus on his business interests and service on the Board of Education of Buffalo Public Schools, where he served from that point until resigning in 2011 to seek the office of Erie County Clerk.

2010 lieutenant governor race[edit]

Jacobs has been reported as the choice of Steve Levy for lieutenant governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election, but Levy failed to make the Republican ballot. Jacobs's selection was not made public until after Levy failed to make the ballot.

Sources[edit]

  • [1] NY DoS release
  • [2] His father's obit, in NYT on November 10, 2001
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Milano
Acting
Secretary of State of New York
2006 - 2007
Succeeded by
Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez