'Vanity project': Cynthia Nixon gets The Gong Show treatment (0)

English Politico 5 päeva tagasi 7

Cynthia Nixon did worse than “Sex and the City 2.”

In fact, she barely outperformed Zephyr Teachout when Teachout ran against Andrew Cuomo in 2014 as a complete unknown, before Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and Donald Trump’s presidency. There wasn’t another Democratic primary challenger in the country who got as much attention but such a small share of the vote — 35 percent.

It turns out that campaigning through the sets of “The Late Show” and “The Daily Show,” while insisting your candidacy isn’t about being a celebrity or seeking national attention, isn’t effective. Cuomo’s last-minute mailer calling Nixon essentially an anti-Semite didn’t flip any counties (nor did her viral cinnamon raisin and lox bagel order). The complaints from Nixon's campaign about Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and others they accused of tilting the scales for Cuomo didn’t matter to voters, either.

It also turns out that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary win in June over Rep. Joe Crowley may have been a more complicated story than Nixon and her allies made it out to be. Nixon rushed to Ocasio-Cortez’s victory party that night in June, wrapping herself in the giant-toppling glory.


Nixon’s campaign took issue when it saw her referred to only as an actress, pointing out that she’s also a longtime education activist. Her aides pitched her as a wonk who’d done her homework on the issues, and said Cuomo was unprepared for a serious challenge.

The many Cuomo haters in New York and all over the internet shook their fists and retweeted. Reporters ran to the rallies. Nixon more than doubled Teachout’s votes in 2014 — but it was nothing compared with Cuomo, who rode his own massive surge while Nixon’s campaign released a statement as the polls closed complaining that too many people were voting.

A lot of sound. A lot of fury. Signifying?

“Vanity project. Acting looks easy to politicians and politics looks easy to actors. Neither are,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster who worked for both Obama campaigns and for Hillary Clinton’s in 2016. He compared Nixon's bid to the late actor and Republican Sen. Fred Thompson’s flop of a presidential campaign in 2008 after much buzz.

As happened in just the past week in the Delaware and Rhode Island primaries, Cuomo showed that a TV-heavy, establishment machine campaign still wins big races. Using Trump as his foil — after years of insisting that it wasn’t the role of the New York governor to get involved in national politics — helped turn into positives all of Cuomo’s negative attributes that have held him back: that he’s a bully, that he fights over little things, that he gets into arguments just for the sake of it.

For all the sense that a new age of democratic socialism was dawning in New York, Cuomo won in Ocasio-Cortez’s district by a slightly bigger margin than he won statewide.


Cuomo has now seen that it doesn’t matter that he gets called a traitor by the frothy left, or that The New York Times editorial board beats him up on the way to a reluctant endorsement, or that his best friend and former campaign manager goes to jail on a corruption conviction. He still gets a blowout. He still gets as many terms in Albany as his father did, and and with more votes than Mario Cuomo got — numbers that matter to a man whose father is always on his mind.

“Without question, what the governor has done is working because what the governor has done is helping working people,” said Cuomo campaign manager Maggie Moran, in a late night interview on Thursday as the final results were coming in. “Every single day, he knocks down economic barriers for people, and he does it so well that he got more votes than any candidate in the history of New York gubernatorial primaries.”

Christine Quinn, a former New York City Council speaker and Cuomo acolyte who greeted Nixon’s entry into the race with the foot-in-mouth gift of calling her an “unqualified lesbian,” was gloating at the Cuomo victory party Thursday night. “Obviously, doing really well against a very aggressive campaign challenger is a very good thing if you want to run for president or any other national office,” she said.

The governor himself didn’t respond on Thursday night to a request to talk about the lessons he sees. He also skipped his campaign party.

But at the losing party, they acted like Cuomo was the one who got trounced.

“He's no longer going to be at the center, he no longer controls the debate,” said Bill Lipton, executive director of the Working Families Party, which backed Cuomo in his past two elections but this year became the engine for Nixon. The party now has to decide whether to try a maneuver to remove her from its ballot line and, hat in hand, try to get Cuomo to take it.

This kind of comment makes the Cuomo orbit break into bitter laughter and cursing. Or this one, from Nixon’s concession speech: “When others were underestimating us, he did not — and he spent accordingly.”

Cable news stations stayed with their hurricane coverage.

The hope of Nixon supporters rests with others who won while she lost. Challengers took out almost all the incumbent Democratic state senators who were part of a breakaway caucus formed in 2011, back when they were protesting being boxed out of power by a series of leaders who literally went to prison. In the years since, the caucus became better known for propping up the facade of a Republican majority in Albany, with Cuomo’s not-so-subtle support throughout.


On his way home from Nixon’s party, Brad Lander, a New York City Council member and prominent member of the Working Families Party, ticked off priorities like health insurance, rent regulations and campaign finance reform he thinks Cuomo will now have to address.

“There’s a story where he still won by the same margin he won four years ago. But if you’re thinking about what legislating in Albany is going to look like next session, it’s going to be very different thanks to those state Senate races,” Lander said.

Cuomo’s campaign wanted to keep the attention on the statewide results, which also included his helping pull struggling candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general over the line by spending his campaign cash on someone other than himself for the first time. He not only got the margin he wanted, but heads into his new term with allies around him instead of rivals.

As for Nixon, “It was crystal clear throughout this campaign that the Nixon team was caught in a feedback loop — since everyone they talked to thought that Andrew Cuomo was evil, they thought everyone thought he was evil,” said Stu Loeser, a former press secretary for Michael Bloomberg who now runs his own consulting shop in New York. “Had they spent any significant time in the suburbs, exurbs, upstate or even in the parts of New York City that aren’t the most liberal, they might have realized that most Democrats aren’t as liberal as they are.”

National Democratic operatives were left annoyed that a primary that never went anywhere in a state that is far from competitive had gobbled up so much attention.

“It says something when a cinnamon raisin bagel in New York gets more national attention than a candidate who could become the governor of a swing state in the Midwest,” said Jared Leopold, communications director for the Democratic Governors Association.

Nixon's biggest fans in this election don’t see any clear future for her in politics.

“I don’t know what kind of role she would want to play going forward,” Lander said. “She’s not going to be the governor. But she played an important role in this election.”

Gloria Pazmino and Laura Nahmias contributed to this report from New York.


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