Actor and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon announced her campaign for governor of New York 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 Dickinson 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.
A 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 Monday, but did not make any public appearances. A Cuomo campaign spokesperson released the following statement Monday afternoon.
"It’s great that we live in a democracy where anyone can run for office," the statement reads. "Governor Cuomo has delivered more real progressive wins than any other Democrat in the country, including passing marriage equality, the strongest gun safety law in the nation, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, paid family leave, record setting funding for public education, expanding and protecting healthcare for our most vulnerable, and banning fracking. We look forward to building on that record as we continue to fight and deliver for New York families statewide.”
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 the mayor 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 more than 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.
Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is seeking the nomination of the Reform Party after dropping out of the GOP race.