Cuomo Defeats Nixon, Onto GOP Dutchess-County-Based Marcus Molinaro
No big surprises in New York last night.
Carving the path to his third term in office, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his stronghold over New York politics after easily defeating Cynthia Nixon in Thursday’s Gubernatorial Primary Election.
The incumbent won by a decisive 30-point margin, garnering support from nearly all of New York’s labor unions, brokers, party leaders, and elected officials following a bitter six-month battle against the former Sex in the City star. He will now face off Republican candidate and Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro in the general election in November.
Most other Democratic nominations for state-wide offices were also backed by the established governor, as Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul, edged out a New York councilman for Democrat’s choice for lieutenant governor, and the Cuomo-endorsed Letitia James won a four-way race for the attorney general nomination. If she wins in November, James will become the first black woman ever to hold a statewide office in New York.
But insurgent liberals finally claimed victory in the state senate, pushing out a group of incumbent Democrats.
Cuomo—a self-identified liberal democrat whose government style leans centrist moderate—opened the gateway for continued attacks from the far left, who criticized his failure to take immediate action on issues such as immigration, housing, and healthcare.
A first-time, progressive candidate new to the political stage, Ms. Nixon seized the opportunity to lead a resurgent left wing. The actress and activist launched a campaign that centered on her position as an outsider—a seemingly liberal version of the platform that President Donald Trump employed in the 2016 Presidential Election. But unlike Trump, she failed to convince voters that anti-establishment ideology would prevail over Cuomo’s experienced pragmatism when dealing with a Republican-dominated White House.
Cuomo cemented the deal 30 minutes before the polls closed, collecting 65.3 percent of the votes. The election attracted a remarkable turnout, with voting counts soaring well above those of the 2014 Primary Election. But in her impassioned concession speech, Nixon emphasized the political impact of her campaign, saying she “fundamentally changed the political landscape,” in launching an attack against established Democrats.
“We have changed what is expected of a Democratic candidate running in New York and what we can demand from our elected leaders,” she said. “Some have called this the ‘Cynthia effect.’ I call it what happens when we hold our leaders accountable.”
Throughout the six-month battle, Cuomo did not engage much with Nixon, opting to transform the primaries into a square-off between himself and President Trump. He responded to Nixon’s anti-establishment platform by fore-fronting his own agenda and championing his victorious record in areas such as gun control, raising minimum wage, and initiating a number of public works projects.
He did, however, fasten his victory by blanketing his campaign with multi-million-dollar television ads lauding his success in women’s rights and resistance to Trump. With about 25 million dollars underlying his campaign, he spent nearly 25 times what Nixon spent—who put only one television ad out in the final days of her run.
In spite numerous pre-election polls predicting the Cuomo victory, the race got messy at times, to say the least.
The political season kicked off with a top surrogate for Cuomo calling Nixon an “unqualified lesbian”—a statement which Cuomo denounced but did not publicly apologize for.
Shortly before the election, Cuomo thoroughly avoided reporters following a campaign mail debacle in which his team, after days of denying its involvement in the distribution of mail that implied Nixon was anti-Semitic, admitted that one of the governor’s former senior aides signed off on the mail and another senior aide drafted it.
Nixon, meanwhile, attacked Cuomo’s public interactions with women and coined him “notoriously invidious.”
Though Nixon lost handily, some speculate that she largely influenced Cuomo’s legislation in the final months of his second term. She took partial credit for him recently changing his opinion on the legalization of marijuana (which he formerly opposed), as well as his stronger alignment with liberal social and economic agendas throughout the past few months.
“The campaign forced the Governor to make concrete commitments that will change the lives of people across the state,” she said.
Cuomo made no public comments following the primary election last night. In November, he will square off with Molinero, a Duchess-County local who, in 1995, became the youngest mayor in the United States after being elected Mayor of Tivoli, New York at the age of 18.