Cuomo was caught by surprise Tuesday, after several people close to the governor said that Nixon was getting more serious.
A popular two-term big-state governor from a political dynasty (his father was governor) with a long record make him a natural presidential front-runner. But his personal spats have pissed off an activist base that’s becoming more liberal. They might be ready to sign up for party infighting with a star from outside of politics.
National operatives already talk regularly about how they don’t like Cuomo or that they know enough other people who don’t. Cuomo’s 2014 primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, won more than a third of the vote — without Nixon’s star power said on Tuesday,
“What we saw was with a weird name and basically no money or name recognition, almost immediately when I started running, people came out of the woodwork in various communities saying they felt betrayed, he wasn’t supporting Democrats or addressing the real issues. The core dissatisfaction has not only remained, but it’s grown.”
Since Teachout’s 2014 challenge, though, Cuomo has moved considerably to the left. He banned natural gas hydrofracking about a month after the election. (I live in upstate New York and am grateful to Cuomo for banning fracking. It was coming to our area and would have ruined it.)
Cuomo defenders are puzzled by all of the ill will. Of all the prospective Democratic presidential candidates, he has one of the biggest records of progressive accomplishments, legalizing gay marriage early in 2011 (Nixon who is gay and married, has benefited personally from this, btw.) Cuomo also passed significant gun laws in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting and just announced the States for Gun Safety coalition to combat the gun violence epidemic along with New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
But then there’s his nonstop grudge match with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. One person who’s spoken to Nixon about a possible run said,
“For eight years, this guy has governed as a Republican in New York, literally empowering a Republican state Senate, bashing Democrats, putting forward a centrist agenda and coasting on his last name. Add to that the fact that his administration is perpetually mired in corruption and the subways don’t work. The guy’s got real problems.”
Christine Quinn, the former New York City council speaker and state Democratic Party vice chair, pointed out that Cuomo has already been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and others. She said,
“The guy’s record, from a left perspective, is flawless. It’s just flawless.
You need to run for a reason. And you need to run not just because of your own desire, your own ‘calling.’”
Cuomo pollster Jef Pollock also dismissed Nixon for waging “a vanity run.” Pollock argued, Nixon is the wrong type of celeb,
“Let’s not overstate the name ID of Cynthia Nixon statewide. It’s not that high, and in a primary electorate in New York state that is far more demographically attuned to ‘60 Minutes’ more than ‘Sex and the City,’ I wouldn’t think that Nixon or the characters she has played have the kind of broad recognition one would need to run in New York state.”
But on Tuesday Cuomo chose not to engage on the topic of any potential challengers,
“On people who may or may not run for governor on both sides of the aisle, that’s up to them, and we’ll deal with it as the campaign progresses.”
Well, if she does run, she’ll bring back some integrity to the tarnished political name, Nixon.
(Photo, Pacific Coast News, via Politico)