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Primary Race For NY Governor Enters The Final Hours

J. Conrad Williams Jr.
Newsday via AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Democratic gubernatorial primary debate as his challenger, Cynthia Nixon, listens, Wednesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Thursday is primary day in New York, and the hottest race is between Democratic incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo and challenger, actor and education advocate, Cynthia Nixon.

Cuomo, who leads Nixon in the polls, has spent the days leading up to the primary at several Get Out the Vote Rallies, where he rails against President Trump and what he says is his “extreme conservative philosophy.” He told supporters that a vote for Cuomo is a vote against Trump.

“Stand with me against this President,” Cuomo told the crowd. “Let’s show him that his nonsense doesn’t sell here!”

In three events in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, Cuomo did not mention his opponent, Cynthia Nixon, once.

Despite the governor’s attempt to, in public, ignore his challenger, Cuomo’s campaign has been spending over $8.5 million in recent weeks on TV ads and paid posts on social media. The state Democratic Party, which Cuomo controls, sent out a controversial mailer to Jewish voters falsely linking Nixon with anti-Semitism. Nixon regularly attends a synagogue and has Jewish children.   

Nixon, who has run a grassroots and social media campaign, with the help of the progressive Working Families Party, released a television adin the final days of the campaign, highlighting her support for single payer health care and ending mass incarceration of African Americans comparing her background to that of her opponent, saying New York is “a place where the daughter of a single mom can defeat the son of a governor.”

Nixon says Cuomo is ignoring pressing problems in New York, including the decline of the New York City subways, economic malaise upstate, and corruption within his administration. Several former associates of Cuomo, including his former closest aide, have been convicted of bribery and bid rigging.

And Nixon believes the polls are wrong. She says they did not predict previous insurgent victories by Democratic challengers from the left.

“The polls right now are not capturing the new progressive voters and the hunger for real change,” Nixon said.

Cuomo, in his camping literature, touts passage of a phased in $15 minimum wage, partial paid family leave, gun control laws, and free college tuition.

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.