Cynthia Nixon to challenge Andrew Cuomo in New York gubernatorial race

The ‘Sex and the City’ actress confirmed Monday that she is mounting a challenge to incumbent Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cynthia Nixon and son Max march at 46th annual Pride parade to celebrate gay, lesbian and transgender community in New York city. Nixon recently announced that she is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (CREDIT: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Cynthia Nixon and son Max march at 46th annual Pride parade to celebrate gay, lesbian and transgender community in New York city. Nixon recently announced that she is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (CREDIT: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cynthia Nixon is a woman of the people, according to the video she released on her Twitter account Monday afternoon. She might have an Emmy, but she takes the subway just like you. She makes lunches for her kids, and she’s got some things to say.

The video Nixon released Monday confirmed rumors that have been swirling for some time now: Nixon is running for governor of New York, mounting a liberal challenge to the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The rumors reached a fever pitch in recent days, after Nixon was seen walking the streets of New York City with a film crew, and after Nixon’s wife, Christine Marinoni, resigned from her job at New York City’s Department of Education under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In her announcement video, Nixon echoes de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” message.

“Our leaders are letting us down. We are now the must unequal state in the entire country, with both incredible wealth and extreme poverty,” Nixon says in her announcement video. “Half the kids in our upstate cities live below the poverty line. How did we let this happen?”

Nixon goes on to say she loves New York and has never wanted to live anywhere else, “but something has to change.”

“We want our government to work again on health care, ending mass incarceration, fixing our broken subway,” she says. “We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us.”


The video ends with Nixon sitting on a train, looking down into the camera, as the announcer says, “Next stop Albany.”

Nixon’s announcement comes less than a week after Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, was convicted on three counts of soliciting and taking bribes by a Manhattan jury. Cuomo argued that he was “never mentioned” during the trial, but, as The New York Times noted, the governor’s name was mentioned 136 times, and his campaign, office, staff, and reputation were mentioned more than 1,500 times.

Cuomo is widely believed to be preparing a 2020 presidential run, and since his reelection in 2014, he has begun to take more progressive positions, including legalizing a very constricted medical marijuana program in the state, passing an incremental $15/hour minimum wage, and implementing a questionable free college program.

But Percoco’s conviction, coupled with a number of other high-profile corruption scandals in Albany, have cast a long shadow over Cuomo’s presidential ambitions. Nixon has already begun to poke holes in what Cuomo is presenting as progressive bonafides.

“It was a choice to slash taxes for the super-rich and impose austerity on everybody else. It was a choice to allow the schools attended by children of color to be underfunded and over-policed. It was a choice to sell our government off to corporate interests and wealthy donors, while the rest of us suffer,” reads Nixon’s website, under a section titled “Why I’m Running.” “These are choices usually made by Republicans. But for the past eight years, they’re all choices that have been made by our governor, Andrew Cuomo.”


Nixon also criticizes Cuomo’s dealings with the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a small group of breakaway Democrats who vote with Republicans, giving the GOP control of the legislature despite the fact that Democrats, on paper, hold more seats.

“We hear all the time about how the big money interests control DC. But if Washington is a swamp, then Albany is a cesspool,” Nixon says on her newly-minted “Cynthia for New York” site. “Andrew Cuomo promised to clean up Albany, but instead, he and his cronies have cleaned up for themselves. There’s a reason why people close to Cuomo keep winding up under indictment for corruption.”

In her announcement and on her website, Nixon outlines health care, public schools, and MTA funding as top priorities, saying she wants to “end the school to prison pipeline” and “stop asking New York City or its riders to clean up Governor Cuomo’s mess.”

“We could take on the real estate developers and landlords who are buying off politicians, raising rents, and forcing people out of their homes,” Nixon says. “We could take on New York’s corrupt political establishment and the billionaire class on Wall Street by passing campaign finance and ethics reform.”


Additionally, Nixon says that she would pass the DREAM act, “which has been blocked by Cuomo’s IDC,” a move she says would make New York a “true sanctuary state.”

Nixon isn’t the first progressive woman to primary Cuomo. In 2014, law professor Zephyr Teachout ran against Cuomo but lost to the incumbent 63-33. Teachout is back this time around, too, serving as Nixon’s treasurer.

Nixon’s fight to take down Albany’s top dog won’t be easily won. A poll released just hours before her announcement found Cuomo leading Nixon by a large margin — 66 to 19 — among Democratic voters in the state. Although Nixon has name recognition, according to the poll, 60 percent of voters said they had no opinion of her.

Cuomo has not yet commented on Nixon’s announcement.

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: A Cuomo campaign spokesperson said in a statement, “It’s great that we live in a democracy where anyone can run for office.”

The spokesperson was not authorized to put his name on the statement and went on to list a number of Cuomo’s achievements as govornor, adding, “We look forward to building on that record as we continue to fight and deliver for New York families statewide.”