New York governor holds off ex-‘Sex and the City’ actress for Democratic nomination
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defeated Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon to win his party’s nomination for a third term.
Cuomo had far greater financial resources going into the matchup, and polls suggested he held a commanding lead before Thursday’s primary.
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Nixon, an activist and former Sex and the City star, had hoped to become the latest liberal challenger to unseat a powerful insider.
Cuomo’s campaign dismissed her as inexperienced and touted the governor’s work to push back against President Donald Trump.
His victory comes despite several missteps, including a widely condemned mailer that questioned Nixon’s support for Jewish people. Nixon has two Jewish children and called the attack “sleazy.”
Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro and independent Stephanie Miner in November’s general election.
Cuomo was a no-show at his own election night victory party and instead celebrated his win over activist and actress Cynthia Nixon at the governor’s mansion in Albany.
The Democrat was expected to attend his party’s election night event in Manhattan on Thursday. But a spokeswoman said he chose to be with family.
It’s a highly unusual move for a winning candidate, though Cuomo has kept up a busy schedule in the final days of the campaign with rallies across the state.
Cuomo easily beat Nixon in Thursday’s contest to win his party’s nomination for a third term.
Nixon, a longtime activist and former star of “Sex and the City,” held her own election night event in Brooklyn.
The outcome of the Democratic primary that got underway Thursday will likely resonate around the nation, as it is a particularly high-profile example of the insurgent left-wing that is seeking to oust establishment incumbents who they say have failed to deliver on liberal promises.
Nixon has hammered Cuomo for failing to address New York City’s beleaguered subways and for not following through on pledges to address corruption. She’s called Cuomo a bully and says she represents a wave of liberals eager to take a greater role in American politics.
“Together, we can show the entire country that in the era of Donald Trump, New Yorkers will come together and lead our nation forward,” Nixon wrote Wednesday evening in a final message to supporters.
WATCH: Sarah Jessica Parker on Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy
Cuomo has mounted a formidable defense, touting liberal accomplishments such as gun control, free public college tuition and a higher minimum wage. He’s spent millions on ads and tried to make the race about Republican President Donald Trump, arguing that he’s the best qualified to govern and push back against the White House. In short, the liberal who gets things done.
“We don’t just believe it — we live by it,” he told a rally in Buffalo on Tuesday.
Polls show Cuomo has a commanding lead, with the most recent survey, from Siena College, suggesting he was more than 40 percentage points ahead in the race’s final days. Nixon argues that recent upset victories should make anyone cautious about the accuracy of polls. She points to Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory over longtime Congressman Joe Crowley as evidence that underdog challengers can defy the odds.
While he seldom mentions her name, Cuomo has taken her seriously as a political threat. Four years ago he largely ignored primary challenger Zephyr Teachout, refusing even to shake her hand, and lost a third of the vote. This year he’s spent millions on ads and, intentionally or not, moved to the left on issues such as legalizing marijuana, banning plastic bags, returning voting rights to former inmates and addressing conditions in New York City public housing.
The race has featured bitter attacks. Nixon called Cuomo a “bully” and a liar, while Cuomo’s campaign has dismissed Nixon as “unhinged.”
Cuomo has also racked up endorsements from a wide assortment of people including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and, on Wednesday, the musician Nicki Minaj.
Nixon, meanwhile, is hoping several recent missteps by Cuomo and his campaign come back to bite him.
The governor was mocked for saying America “was never that great” during remarks criticizing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Cuomo also claimed to have no knowledge of a Democratic Party mailer that questioned Nixon’s support for Jewish people — despite Cuomo’s control of the party and a recent $2.5 million contribution to its campaign operations. Party director Geoff Berman later said the mailer was a mistake, and Cuomo’s spokeswoman acknowledged that two former aides volunteering on the campaign were behind the piece.
WATCH: Actress Cynthia Nixon announces candidacy for Governor of New York
The winner of the primary will face Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, an independent, in the November general election.
It’s possible that no matter who wins, both Cuomo and Nixon could appear on the November ballot anyway, thanks to third-party nominations. New York state law allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines.
Cuomo has the nomination of the Independence Party and the Women’s Equality Party, while Nixon has been nominated by the Working Families Party — though she has said she will seek to remove her name if she doesn’t beat Cuomo in the Democratic primary.
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