Echoing themes of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, actress Cynthia Nixon launched her bid Tuesday to become New York governor with a blistering attack on the incumbent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, as a “fake Democrat” who favors “massive tax breaks” for the “super rich.”
Nixon, a former star of “Sex and the City,” came out swinging in her first campaign event in Brooklyn. Like Sanders, Nixon sought to tap into Democrats who feel left behind by party leaders they think have been too cozy with corporate interests and Republicans.
She portrayed Cuomo as tied to corruption, influenced by big money donors, clandestinely supportive of legislative Republicans and “inhumane budgets,” and more aligned with the top 1 percent of the economic class than regular Democrats.
She also blamed the governor for “our broken subway,” which experienced a delay that made her about 40 minutes late for her first news conference.
“New York’s eight years under the Cuomo administration have been an exercise in living in disappointment, dysfunction and dishonesty,” Nixon said. “We are tied of fake, corporate Democrats who won’t lift a finger unless their donors say OK.”
The Cuomo campaign didn’t immediately comment.
But a key Cuomo ally fired back, demonstrating that this stacks up to be a brutal fight for the Democratic nomination.
Christine Quinn, Cuomo’s hand-picked vice chair of the state Democratic Party, told the New York Post that Nixon was an “unqualified lesbian” who didn’t have the experience to be governor. Two hours later, Quinn, who also is openly gay, backpedaled.
On Twitter, Quinn said Nixon’s “identity has no bearing on her candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did.” Quinn went on to note that Nixon opposed her candidacy for New York mayor in 2013 “despite my strong progressive credentials” and that the “real point” she was trying to make was that “I do not believe she has the qualifications or the record.”
Nixon, 51, is a longtime education activist who has criticized the state for what she calls unequal school funding. But she broadened her attack on Cuomo (who has sought to belittle her as a not-so-famous star).
She said she believed in 2010 that Cuomo was a “true Democrat,” but since then he has “shown us his true colors.” She said the governor tacitly backed Republican-control of the state Senate and allowed the GOP to gerrymander districts, “suppressing” Democratic voters and blocking progessive legislation.
“It’s surprising, right? But you know who isn’t surprised? The Koch Brothers,” Nixon said, referring to the wealthy industrialists and frequent conservative backers. “The Koch Brothers donated $87,000 to Andrew Cuomo when he first ran in 2010 because they knew a good investment when they saw one. Because they knew whether he called himself a Democrat or not, his policies would benefit corporations like theirs and billionaires like them.”
She also hit Cuomo over corruption issues, saying he failed on his promise to “clean up Albany,” noting that his former “right-hand man, Joe Percoco, was just convicted of selling his office to the highest bidder.” (Percoco, the governor’s ex-top adviser, was convicted last week of being involved in a bribery scheme.)
“We hear all the time about how the big-money interests control DC,” Nixon said. “But if Washington is a swamp, Albany is a cesspool.”