Democrats Celebrate Upstate Boost Amidst City Chaos

President Joe Biden joined Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer in upstate New York this afternoon to tout the announcement of up to $6 billion in federal funding for a semiconductor factory. However, about 250 miles southeast, chaos continued at Columbia University and nearby colleges, while former President Donald Trump’s trial resumed downtown.

Amidst the turmoil in New York City, the atmosphere in Syracuse was notably positive as the state’s top Democrats gathered for the occasion. The semiconductor deal with Micron, unveiled in late 2022, is seen as a significant boost for the struggling upstate economy, which has suffered from years of manufacturing job losses and population decline.

“Folks, I want to thank Governor Hochul for hosting us today and for her partnership,” Biden remarked during the event. He also jestingly referenced upstate House Republicans who had previously raised concerns about the CHIPS Act but were now embracing its investments in New York. Notably, the district is a crucial battleground, with Republican Rep. Brandon Williams considered one of the most vulnerable freshmen in the nation this fall.

However, the contrast of the day was stark. While Biden and Hochul condemned the antisemitism at the campus protests, they faced criticism from Republicans for not taking stronger action, such as deploying the National Guard to address the unrest.

Hochul indicated this week that she was in ongoing discussions with Columbia University to address the tent camps and ensure campus safety. Although Hochul visited the university privately on Monday, Biden’s trip did not include a stop in the city, with a fundraiser scheduled in Westchester later in the evening.

In contrast, House Speaker Mike Johnson, second in line to the president, visited Columbia University on Wednesday with other House GOP members, urging Hochul to bolster enforcement around the campus. However, their efforts were met with protests from students chanting “Mike, you suck!” who refused to comply with administrators’ directives to dismantle their tent encampment on the university lawn.

The optics of Hochul’s subsequent stroll through Central Park, documented on social media with a soft pretzel and selfies next to blossoming trees, drew criticism from State Sen. Jack Martins, chair of the Senate Republican Working Group on Antisemitism. Martins accused the governor of prioritizing “photo-ops” over student safety during a challenging time.

Avi Small, a spokesperson for Hochul, defended her activities and highlighted her broader social media engagement on several topics, including protecting survivors of sexual assault, defending abortion rights, and investing in the criminal justice system.