On Monday, Cynthia Nixon announced that she will be running for governor of New York, posing a challenge to the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, in the Democratic primary. Cuomo's response to Nixon's governor bid has been far from complimentary, with the governor appearing to characterize Nixon as a second rate celebrity and implying that her name does not garner that much recognition.
Prior to her official announcement on Monday, Gov. Cuomo commented on the rumors that Nixon might run. On March 7, Cuomo held a conference call with reporters and addressed several questions related to Nixon's then-potential candidacy. At one point, he appeared to mock Nixon for seemingly not having enough name recognition for her work as an actress — implying that she was not enough of a celebrity to cause a problem for his campaign. As the governor put it:
Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor. But if it’s just about name recognition, then I’m hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race because if it’s just about name recognition, that would really be a problem.
The Times also reported that Cuomo laughed aloud when a reporter asked him what could have inspired Nixon to consider running for office. "I think it was probably either the mayor of New York [Bill de Blasio, a friend of Nixon's] or Vladimir Putin ... I am going to leave it to you, great investigative reporters to follow the facts and ferret out the truth.”
Nixon, who is most well-known for her role as Miranda on HBO's Sex and the City, announced her candidacy in a video posted to her Twitter account on Monday. In the video, Nixon described some of reasoning behind her decision to run and outlined the issues on which she hopes to focus if she is elected:
Our leaders are letting us down ... Something has to change ... We want our government to work again, on health care, ending mass incarceration, fixing our broken subway. We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us. It can’t just be business as usual anymore.
According to Vox, Nixon will likely seek to challenge Cuomo from the left, framing him as a more centrist candidate. Vox also reported that, while Nixon has never before held public office, she has been involved in progressive advocacy for many years. Indeed, as Vox pointed out, she has worked to promote and protect LGBT rights and to reform public education. She was also heavily involved in campaigning for Bill de Blasio during the New York City mayor's race in 2013.
Cuomo, the two-term incumbent and son of Mario Cuomo, a three-term governor of New York, has a long history of work in the public arena. Recently, however, Cuomo's administration has been associated with a corruption scandal, as the governor's former senior aide, Joseph Percoco, was found guilty of three counts of corruption charges. While, as the New York Times reported, Cuomo himself was not accused of misconduct, the negative attention generated by the case could have a potentially damaging impact on his re-election campaign.
However, thus far, Cuomo seems to be the heavy favorite to be the Democratic nominee for the governor's race. Indeed, a Siena College poll published on Monday revealed that Cuomo was beating Nixon by 66 percent to 19 percent among registered Democrats.
The Democratic primary is scheduled to take place in September and the gubernatorial election will occur on Nov. 6. If Cuomo's words about Nixon are any indication, the race looks to be quite contentious, as both the governor and Nixon ardently seek to secure a spot as the Democratic candidate.