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NYS Party Conventions This Week

A "vote here" sign in English and Spanish on sidewalk
Paul Tuthill

Both major political parties hold their conventions later this week.

The Democratic and Republican events will be held simultaneously, on May 23 and 24. The Republican convention will be in New York City and the Democratic convention will be in Long Island. 

On Wednesday, the GOP is expected to nominate Marc Molinaro as its candidate for governor. Molinaro, the 42 year old Dutchess County Executive, has been in politics since he was a teenager, as he became Mayor of his hometown of Tivoli when he was 19.

Molinaro is an underdog. New York tends to vote largely for Democrats, and he is equipped with little campaign money and name recognition. He has distanced himself from President Trump, who is unpopular in New York, saying he did not vote for Trump in the 2016 elections. Trump, however, is still backed by a significant percentage of core Republican voters that Molinaro will need in November.

The presumptive GOP nominee has focused his case on perceived weaknesses of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Molinaro says Cuomo is overbearing and conducts too much business, like state budget negotiations, in secret.

“Too often, the tone coming from the governor’s office is angry and divisive,” Molinaro recently told a crowd of supporters. “The language is crude and offensive. And the office is dark and shrouded in secrecy.”

Molinaro has also criticized Cuomo for corruption within his administration. A former top aide of the governor was convicted on federal bribery charges, and other former Cuomo associates face trial in June.

Molinaro has selected Julie Killian, a chemical engineer from Westchester, as his running mate. Killian lost a special state Senate election to Democrat Shelly Mayer in April.

On Thursday, Andrew Cuomo will be nominated for a third term at the Democratic convention. Cuomo, who began his term as a moderate, has tacked left in recent years. Recently, he came out against a garbage burning plant in the Finger Lakes and dropped his opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Cuomo has also positioned himself as the opposition to President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, as he outlined in a recent speech to the nurses’ union, The New York State Nurses Association.

“What we're going to do together is make New York State the home of the rise of the resistance. We're going to show this nation the alternative to Trump's America. And the alternative to Trump's America is the great state of New York, the beacon of progressive values, the state that says we can all succeed together,” Cuomo said on April 20.

The union later endorsed him.

Kathy Hochul will likely remain as Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor.

The Democratic Party announced Monday that former First Lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the convention and will endorse Cuomo for governor.

Cuomo faces a primary challenge from Sex and the City actress and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon. Nixon is also the candidate for the Working Families Party. The Progressive Party endorsed Cuomo in 2010 and 2014, but fell out with the governor this year.

Nixon received the formal party designation on May 19, but she was chosen a month earlier at a Working Families Party meeting in Albany, in which she said Cuomo’s record fell short  in areas including income equality, school funding, and campaign finance reform, as well as addressing his inability to elevate more Democrats to the state Senate. 

“We have had it with the corruption and dysfunction in Albany,” Nixon said as the crowd chanted her name. “We have had it with corporate Democrats.”

Cuomo is ahead in polls of likely voters for the Democratic Primary. But Nixon could remain on the  Working Families Party line in November and draw votes from the incumbent governor in a general election. Nixon has not yet said what she will do.

Nixon’s campaign says she will attend the Democratic convention. She is not expected to ask for, or to receive the 25 percent of the delegates’ vote needed to automatically place her on the ballot. She is likely to gain access to the Democratic Primary through petitions instead.

Both of the major parties will also nominate other statewide candidates. The race for attorney general has become more interesting, after Eric Schneiderman resigned the office after published accusations that he assaulted multiple women that he dated.  Schneiderman denies the allegations.

New York City Public Advocate  Letitia "Tish" James is the likely Democratic choice to run for attorney general. Republican  Manny Alicandro, a Brooklyn attorney, entered the AG race before Schneiderman resigned. John Cahill, a former aide to Governor George Pataki and the 2014 GOP candidate for attorney general, has also been mentioned as a potential choice.

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