New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated activist and ‘Sex in the City’ actress Cynthia Nixon to win the Democratic nomination Thursday night CNN reports.
Cuomo is seen as the moderate, establishment Democrat while Nixon represents a left-leaning, progressive push looking for a foothold in the party.
Cuomo, the incumbent, spent more than $8 million in the last few weeks of the campaign to fight off Nixon’s momentum.
Nixon’s campaign appealed to some popular sentiments among progressive including universal rent control, single-payer health care, increased funding for public schools, and a large-scale revamp of New York City’s broken-down subway system.
Early in the campaign, Nixon was backed by groups like the Working Families Party, Indivisible and local Democratic Socialists of America chapters.
Nixon ripped into Cuomo at every opportunity, criticising his political agenda as insufficiently ambitious for the Empire state.
New York progressives have blamed Cuomo for the state’s failure to pass its own DREAM Act, any type of legislation to protect abortion rights and serious campaign finance revisions for years.
While they do give credit to Cuomo for helping legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, they are quick to point out he failed to step up on many other liberal ideals.
While Nixon lost on Thursday night, she praised her progressive allies and called her campaign a victory in itself.
“We have fundamentally changed the political landscape in this state,” she told supporters gathered at Brooklyn’s Omar Cafe. “We have changed what is expected of a Democratic candidate running in New York and what we can demand from our elected leaders. Progressive rhetoric alone is not enough — people are struggling just to survive here, and they need to see real substantive policies that address racial, gender and economic inequality.”
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Cuomo, on the other hand, had the backing of the Democratic establishment.
Political leaders like Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden backed the governor, who also secured an endorsement from the New York Times editorial board.
Cuomo also outspent Nixon nearly 20 to 1, launching a massive television ad campaign featuring endorsements from former-Vice President Biden right before the debate.
Stu Loeser, the longtime former spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the governor’s advantage heading into primary was more than just outspending Nixon and felt Cuomo’s progressive opponents misread the election.
“Progressives say all decisions should be made purely on the merits and that’s why we should be pursuing affordable housing and everything else,” Loeser said. “And there are a lot of people out there who think, ‘We lose every time that happens. And this guy is concerned about us.'”