Cynthia Nixon, the Sex and the City actress and activist, is challenging incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shaking up an otherwise sleepy Democratic primary race. That’s less because of Nixon’s celebrity and more because she’s mounting a campaign against the governor from the left, setting up a blue-state showdown that reflects some of the deeper tensions within the Democratic Party in the state.
Cuomo, a two-term incumbent, is a skilled operator hailing from one of New York’s most famous political families. He has a deep war chest for his reelection campaign. He rarely avoids an opportunity to criticize Trump. He’s also championed liberal policies, particularly in his second term, such as paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage.
But Cuomo — who possibly has political ambitions beyond the governorship — is still perceived as being somewhat vulnerable from the left, as his brand of transactional politics sometimes feels out of place in an era of growing Democratic activism.
Nixon’s candidacy so far has targeted Cuomo’s weak spots both locally and statewide, from the city’s subway crisis to the corruption scandals that have continued to plague Albany, the state’s capital.
Cuomo has earned the endorsement of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who will also be on the ballot this year. Gillibrand, widely rumored to be a 2020 hopeful, is running unopposed in the primary.
Also on the ballot will be Democrats running to replace a progressive champion of women’s rights, Louise Slaughter, who died earlier this year at the age of 88.