World

‘The blue wave is real’: Cuomo stomps on Nixon’s insurgent challenge in N.Y. primaries

(Bloomberg) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo won the state’s
Democratic gubernatorial nomination, beating actress Cynthia
Nixon in an election that tested his ability to counter a
progressive challenge in one of the nation’s most liberal
states.

Cuomo topped Nixon 66 percent to 34 percent with 99 percent of
precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press, which
declared the winner about 30 minutes after polls closed. Nixon
conceded the race Thursday night, declaring a victory in the
ousting of several Democratic state senators who had aligned
themselves with Republicans to thwart the progressive agenda.

“The blue wave is real and it is not only coming for
Republicans, it’s coming for Democrats who act like them,” she
said. “The other side spent $25 million trying to drown us out
but we wouldn’t back down, we refused to be quiet and we made
our voices heard.”

Nixon, who starred in HBO’s “Sex and the City,”tried to depict
Cuomo as ineffective in maintaining the state’s infrastructure
and school systems and as a corrupt captive of corporate
campaign donors. Cuomo, 60, largely ignored Nixon and
campaigned asserting that he would be the better adversary to
President Donald Trump, a fellow New Yorker who’s unpopular in
the fourth most-populous state.

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Democrats responded to Cuomo’s stance as Trump’s antagonist in
chief, with 1.5 million votes cast, or about 27 percent
turnout. The primary campaign four years ago attracted about
575,000 voters.

While Nixon failed to oust the two-term incumbent, her
criticisms of Cuomo may be raised by Republican candidate Marc
Molinaro, the executive of upstate Dutchess County, in the Nov.
6 general election. They may also make Cuomo vulnerable if he
decides to run for president in 2020, even though during the
campaign he promised to serve though 2022 if re-elected.

The blue wave is real and it is not only coming for
Republicans, it’s coming for Democrats who act like them. The
other side spent $25 million trying to drown us out but we
wouldn’t back down, we refused to be quiet and we made our
voices heard

“In a large free-for-all field that is likely in 2020, perhaps
even as big as the GOP’s in 2016, he could have as good a shot
as anyone else in the category of the more-moderate wing of the
party,” said Robert Shapiro, professor of political science at
Columbia University. “If he were the candidate, his battles
with Nixon and Teachout and his late coming with liberal
initiatives might cause problems in getting the progressive
base.”

Zephyr Teachout, a law professor and anti-corruption activist,
finished second in a four-way race for the Democratic
nomination for New York attorney general, even after receiving
endorsements from the New York Times and other newspapers.
Letitia James, the city’s public advocate, won with 41 percent
of the vote, while Teachout got 31 percent.

While Cuomo also was endorsed by the Times, the paper had many
harsh words for the incumbent, called him a “flawed” governor
who “has done little to combat the corruption the legislature
and his own administration, and he has allowed the subway
system, the foundation of the New York City economy, to rot.”

The race for lieutenant governor was closer than the one for
the top job. Cuomo’s running mate, incumbent Kathy Hochul, beat
Nixon’s partner, black city councilman Jumaane Williams, 53
percent to 47 percent.

Cuomo’s victory ran counter to results in several other
elections this year in which insurgents defeated incumbents or
establishment-backed candidates.

Nixon, 52, had hoped to take advantage of the Democratic
Party’s leftward shift, attacking Cuomo for taking millions of
dollars from real estate developers and other corporate
interests, and for failing to stem corruption that has resulted
in federal convictions of state legislative leaders and three
former top aides.

“She has not inspired widespread confidence that she can run a
state government,” George Arzt, a Democratic political
consultant who was press secretary to former New York City
Mayor Ed Koch, said ahead of the vote. “Meanwhile, he has the
people in state jobs, the people dependent upon government
services, the vendors, the contractors. That’s a very committed
group, and they are going to come out to vote no matter what
the weather is.”

Nixon was also no match for Cuomo’s prodigious fundraising
ability. He raised more than $35 million, with the largest
amount coming from the real estate industry. Nixon, who vowed
to take no corporate money, raised $2 million.

Cuomo, the son of three-term governor Mario Cuomo, prevailed
despite a campaign marked by gaffes, miscalculations and
offensive statements. Most recently, a mailing sent by the
Cuomo-controlled Democratic State Committee stirred outrage by
suggesting that Nixon would tolerate antisemitism and falsely
accused her of supporting an anti-Israel boycott and opposing
aid to Yeshivas. Nixon belongs to a Manhattan synagogue and has
raised her children as Jewish.

Earlier in the campaign, Cuomo joked to a black church
congregation that Jews can’t dance, lectured a woman reporter
on sexual harassment and urged another to let him watch her eat
a sausage sandwich. Last month, he provoked gasps among an
audience of supporters by trying to deflate Trump’s slogan by
saying America “was never that great.”

Molinaro, 42, who ran unopposed, has already attacked Cuomo’s
stewardship of the state-operated subways and characterized his
leadership as scandal-ridden. In a state where Democrats
outnumber Republicans more than 2-to-1, Molinaro’s victory
would make him the state’s first Republican governor since
George Pataki ended his term in 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New
York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net

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