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Cynthia Nixon Announces Run For New York Governor

Jason DeCrow
AP Images for Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign honors Cynthia Nixon with the HRC Visibility Award at the 2018 HRC Greater New York Gala in New York in February.

Actor and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon announced her campaign for governor of New York in Monday. She wants to run in a Democratic primary against incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo.  

Nixon made her announcement in a video that shows her with her wife and children in her home, and on the streets of New York, taking her child to school and riding the subway.  

“New York is my home,” Nixon said in the video, saying she grew up with her mom, a single mother, in a fifth floor walkup.

The former star of the hit TV show Sex and the City, who most recently portrayed Emily Dickenson in the movie A Quiet Passion, originally began acting to help pay her way through Barnard College.

The 51-year old is also an advocate for funding for public education, and for LGBTQ rights. She has never held public office.

In the video, Nixon decries income inequality in a state that she says has “incredible wealth and extreme poverty” and the depressed upstate economy where she says half of all children are poor.  

The video does not mention Cuomo by name, but in an accompanying release, Nixon calls the governor a “centrist and Albany insider” who’s “time in office has been defined by a string of indictments for corruption” and backroom deals that allow Republicans to continue to control the State Senate.

Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco, was convicted of bribery last week. Other former Cuomo associates face federal corruption trials later this year.

“We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us,” Nixon says in the video.

Siena College poll released Monday finds that Cuomo is far ahead of Nixon, leading her among Democrats, says Siena’s Steve Greenberg.

“Two-thirds, 66 percent of Democrats say they are with Cuomo, only 19 percent are with Nixon,” said Greenberg. “Cuomo is very strong among Democrats right now.”

Greenberg, who spoke just before Nixon announced her candidacy, says the real campaigning has not yet begun, though, and when that happens, the numbers could change.  

“What moves people in campaigns, is when you put money behind it, and you’re all over radio and TV, and you’re on the blogs,” said Greenberg. “We still haven’t seen the full effect of the Percoco trial, in terms of how it’s going to affect the Governor, potentially.”

The same poll found that when voters were asked whether they would like Cuomo to be governor again, 48 percent said yes, while 46 percent say they’d prefer someone else. And it showed the governor’s job performance rating slipping by seven points.

Cuomo was at the Capitol, but did not make any public comments. The governor was asked earlier in March about the possibility of Nixon challenging him. He was also asked about her links to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has had a long running feud with Cuomo, and whether de Blasio might be partly behind the effort.

“I think it was probably either the Mayor of New York or Vladimir Putin,” Cuomo said with a chuckle. “I’m going to leave it to you great investigative reporters to follow the facts and ferret out the truth.”

A spokesman for the governor said afterward that Cuomo was just trying to have a bit of fun, and was not linking Nixon to the Russian leader.

More recently Cuomo has said he’s not “nervous” about whoever runs against him.

In 2014, an unknown challenger to Cuomo, Zephyr Teachout, won over one-third of the primary vote. Teachout is listed as Nixon’s campaign treasurer.

Cuomo also faces two Republican challengers for governor, Deputy State Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. So far, the governor is nearly 30 points ahead of both men.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.