Election 2020

Cynthia Nixon Gains Ground on Andrew Cuomo in N.Y. Governor's Race

Cynthia Nixon presents her Climate Justice Agenda on April 20, 2018, at the YMCA in the Rockaways, New York. (Erik McGregor/Sipa via AP Images)

New York magazine writer Jessica Pressler declared  onApril 15 that Cynthia Nixon had pushed Gov. Andrew Cuomo so far to the left that the actress had already won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mic writer A.P. Joyce pointed to Cuomo’s executive order that gives paroled felons the right to vote, along with an agreement to end the power-sharing agreement between the state Senate GOP caucus and Democrats who often sided with the GOP as evidence of Cuomo’s new lean to the port side of New York state politics.

“While some progressive activists cheered her entry into the race, many established New York Democrats attacked her candidacy as a political stunt,” Joyce wrote. “Nixon, however, is proving she doesn’t need experience to effect change for progressives. She just has to keep running.”

Less than a month into her campaign, Nixon is already gaining ground with voters.

A Siena College poll released April 17 showed Cuomo led Nixon 58-27 percent. A wide margin to be sure, but it was 16 percentage points better than the 66-19 percentage point lead Cuomo had over Nixon in March before she announced her campaign.

“Since the last Siena College poll, Nixon declared her candidacy, Senate Democrats promised kumbaya, there was public debate over the definition of ‘qualified lesbian,’ and Nixon appears to have secured the Working Families Party line for November,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

“The race has just started and there’s still five months to go. In a variation of Bette Davis’ famous line: fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride,” Greenberg added.

Nixon’s ability to wrest the Working Families Party endorsement away from Cuomo was termed a “milestone” in a New York Times article.

New York Times Editorial Board member Mara Gay wrote the WFP endorsement was akin to receiving a “coveted seal of liberal approval.”

Bill Lipton, the WFP’s New York State director, told the New York Times it also felt good to break away from Cuomo.

“You know the way you feel when you know you’ve done the right thing?” said Lipton. “You sleep better at night.”

But doing the right thing, if that is what the WFP’s endorsement of Nixon was, came at a price. Two large labor groups that are in Cuomo’s camp pulled out of the progressive organization in response to the Nixon decision.

Lipton said that cost the WFP “millions in funding,” but stated the group still had plenty of money to help Nixon campaign against Cuomo.

However, it also meant a new battle line had been drawn in the Democratic Party’s New York primary campaign.

“The governor stands with the unions who have left the WFP and no longer feel it represents the interests of middle- and working-class New Yorkers,” Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer told HuffPost.

Nixon has focused on issues — and taken positions — that progressives love like campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, legalization of marijuana, and renewable energy.

Nixon told Colbert she’s running for governor to do more than make a progressive’s ideological point or push Cuomo to the left. She wants to win.

“You can have more than one career in your life,” she said.

Nixon told Colbert voters should not be bothered by the fact that she’s famous for playing the role of Miranda on “Sex and the City” and has never held an elective office.

“I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with celebrity in politics,” Nixon said. “It gives you a platform. But it’s what you do with that platform.”

But millions of New Yorkers still see Miranda Hobbes when they look at Cynthia Nixon.

The New York Post’s Jennifer Wright thinks that’s good and will help Nixon’s campaign “because the take-no-nonsense badass Miranda is the right symbol at the right time — especially for young women,” she wrote.

“As she campaigned over the last couple days, hitting Gov. Cuomo on subway delays and using former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s ‘unqualified lesbian’ slight to her advantage, it’s clear that Nixon is as unflappable and witty under pressure as Miranda,” Wright added.

Yet, not everyone — even at the New York Times — loves the idea of Gov. Miranda in Albany.

“She earned her celebrity and fortune through a pop cultural product, ‘Sex and the City,’ that promoted a vision of New York that stands entirely in opposition to her professed values,” Ginia Bellafante wrote when Nixon announced her candidacy.

“It was the HBO series, beyond any other entertainment, that helped solidify the image of the city as a luxury brand — an elite, fantastical consumer paradise where it was never too early or late in the day to buy an $800 pair of shoes,” Bellafante added. “Is Cynthia Nixon, ultimately, the best vessel for her own invaluable message?”