Primary victory cements Kathy Hochuls status as political force in NY

Primary victory cements Kathy Hochul\s status as political force in NY
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Easily Defeats Cynthia Nixon in New York Primary
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took a decisive step toward a third term on Thursday, quelling a liberal rebellion by turning aside the insurgent challenge of Cynthia Nixon to claim the Democratic nomination in New York.

Mr. Cuomo had marshaled the support of nearly all of the state and countrys most powerful Democratic brokers — elected officials, party leaders, labor unions and wealthy real estate interests — to defeat Ms. Nixon, beating her by 30 percentage points.

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The race cemented both Mr. Cuomos standing as an unmatched force in New York politics and a merciless tactician with little regard for diplomacy.

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Everything Cynthia Nixons Sex and the City Costars Have Said About Her Run for New York Governor

Ms. Nixon had cast her first-time candidacy as a fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in New York and beyond, offering a pure brand of liberalism against Mr. Cuomos more triangulating pragmatism, a style defined less by ideology and more by what he deemed possible.

In the end, the governors record of achievements — on gun control, gay marriage, the minimum wage, paid-family leave and more — and his gargantuan fund-raising advantage spoke louder than Ms. Nixons objections over legislation he sidelined in the byzantine corridors of Albanys capital.

The race was called about 30 minutes after the polls closed, with Mr. Cuomo watching the results roll in over dinner with senior staff at the Governors Mansion in Albany. Mr. Cuomo never appeared publicly after the polls closed on Thursday, letting the results speak for themselves.

Ms. Nixon called to offer Mr. Cuomo a private concession before a fiery speech before her supporters in Brooklyn, where she and her two insurgent allies for statewide office, Zephyr Teachout and Jumaane Williams, had gathered. All three lost.

In the attorney generals race, Letitia James, the New York City public advocate and Mr. Cuomos choice, won the Democratic nomination in a four-way race, with Ms. Teachout finishing second. Should Ms. James prevail in November, she would become the first black woman to ever hold statewide office in New York. In the lieutenant governors race, Kathy Hochul, Mr. Cuomos running mate, fended off a challenge from Mr. Williams, a New York City councilman, winning by the narrowest margin of the three.

The lone bright spot for liberal insurgents came down ballot, where Democratic challengers in State Senate contests had knocked off six of the eight members of a group of rogue Democrats who had broken with the party in recent years to form a coalition with Republicans in Albany.

Mr. Cuomos victory ensures that no Democratic governor or senator in America lost a party primary in 2018, a sign of how steep a climb Ms. Nixon, an actress and activist, had faced, even before the governors campaign unloaded a sum close to $25 million to blanket the contest in a blizzard of television ads and glossy mailers.

When others were underestimating us, he did not, Ms. Nixon said in her concession speech. And he spent accordingly.

In November, Mr. Cuomo, 60, will seek to match the three terms that his father, Mario M. Cuomo, achieved as governor. He has forcefully denied any presidential ambitions of his own, saying the only way he would not serve through 2022 would be death.

Mr. Cuomo himself had sought to mostly ignore Ms. Nixon in recent months, focusing repeatedly on President Trump. His campaign, meanwhile, methodically pushed to undermine Ms. Nixons credibility in often-caustic terms, tapping into the concerns of New York Democrats that an experienced governor is needed while a hostile Republican occupies the White House.

After a six-month slog versus Ms. Nixon, Mr. Cuomo now faces a less than 60-day sprint of a general election against the Republican, Marcus J. Molinaro, the affable Dutchess County executive who was once the youngest mayor in the nation. He, like Ms. Nixon, is expected to be drastically outspent by Mr. Cuomo. And in a heavily Democratic state in what most strategists predict will be a Democratic year, Mr. Molinaros bid is not seen as a top-tier race for Republicans nationally.

The final margin in the primary belied the ferocity of the campaign, which began with the charge that Ms. Nixon was an unqualified lesbian by a top surrogate for Mr. Cuomo and ended with a mailer accusing her of silence on anti-Semitism. Mr. Cuomo called it inappropriate but did not apologize.

He won ugly, said Bradley Tusk, who served as campaign manager for former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Even before the polls had closed, there were worried whispers from New York City to Albany of those who had crossed him readying for a coming retribution tour.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter.]

When Ms. Nixon burst onto the political stage in March, it was as if she had unleashed the repressed id of New York progressives long frustrated with Mr. Cuomos transactional ways. But for many voters, Ms. Nixon never successfully presented enough evidence that she was prepared to be governor, other than offering what she was not: an Albany insider or Mr. Cuomo.

If you run an outsider campaign, you have to run a campaign like Trump did, saying Things are so bad that youve got nothing to lose, so who cares that I dont have experience, Mr. Tusk said. In this case, the guy with experience gets a lot done.

Still, in losing, Ms. Nixon arguably made as much of a policy impact on New York as some elected officials have: Mr. Cuomo embraced a series of liberal ideas soon after her entry, including moving toward legalizing marijuana, extending voting rights to parolees and brokering a deal to dissolve the Independent Democratic Conference, the group of Democratic state senators who had aligned with Republicans in Albany.

Among the six I.D.C. members who lost primaries on Thursday was their leader, State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein in the Bronx, who was defeated by Alessandra Biaggi, the granddaughter of Mario Biaggi, a former congressman.

While Ms. Nixon scored a record number of small donors for a New York race, she struggled to collect larger donations, pulling in a total of just under $2.5 million with about 10 days left in the race.

That is roughly how much Mr. Cuomo raised in a single day, at his birthday fund-raiser last December.

Turnout in 2018 was two and a half times larger than in 2014, even as Mr. Cuomo carried the state by nearly the same margin. It was a sure sign of his grip on the state that he could earn commanding victories in years with both large and small turnouts.

Mr. Cuomo was a no-show at the victory gala that his state party was throwing in Manhattan, where attendees snacked on baked oysters, pita, hummus and pigs in blankets amid chants of four more years! (One rogue supporter shouted 2020!)

Mr. Cuomo seemed to stumble across the finish line in the final days of this race, dogged by questions of the timing of a bridge opening and the mailer that incorrectly sought to link Ms. Nixon to anti-Semitism.

Mr. Molinaro has used both issues to hammer Mr. Cuomo in some of the opening salvos of the fall campaign.

For now, Ms. Nixon is still technically on the November ballot as the Working Families Party nominee. She must decide whether to withdraw, and if so, the party, which spent much of the year at war with Mr. Cuomo, must decide whether to grant its line to the incumbent governor. Ms. Nixon declined to discuss her plans in a radio interview on Tuesday.

Incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo looks to hold off a challenge from actress and progressive candidate Cynthia Nixon; Jacqui Heinrich reports.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo soundly defeated insurgent progressive Cynthia Nixon in Thursdays gubernatorial primary, denying far-left liberals a victory they had long sought against the establishment Democrat.

And incumbent Kathy Hochul defeated Jumaane Williams, another so-called "resistance" candidate, in the race for lieutenant governor. Hochul, a former congresswoman from Buffalo, now moves on to the November general election as Cuomos running mate.

Rounding out the days key races, Cuomo-backed New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, 59, won a four-way Democratic primary for attorney general, triumphing over progressive law professor Zephyr Teachout.

Teachout had campaigned with Nixon against Cuomo, and pledged to make fighting state corruption a priority. She had said shed use the "law as a sword, not just a shield" in cracking down on President Trump. 

Teachout had run unsuccessfully against Cuomo for governor in 2014, claiming more than 30 percent of the vote in a surprisingly strong showing.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks as he marks his primary election ballot at the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco on Thursday.  (AP)

The losses were a one-two-three punch for so-called "resistance" Democrats seeking to defy polls — and better-funded opponents — to upend the New York party establishment. 

Still, there was some good news on the night for supporters of democratic socialist U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Julia Salazar, a democratic socialist whose campaign for a seat in the state Senate was overshadowed by a series of bizarre revelations about her past, unseated a 16-year incumbent in Thursdays Democratic primary.

And the evening could end up making history. James, who would become the first black woman to hold statewide elected office in New York if she prevails in the general election for attorney general, might soon see the president in court. New York has filed several lawsuits against Trumps policies and his charitable foundation. 

The current attorney general, Barbara Underwood, was appointed in May when Eric Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of physically abusing women. Underwood declined to run for election.

The results, on the whole, were mostly expected, even if this primary season has shown that upsets are almost the new normal. Williams, the lieutenant general candidate, had reportedly faced significant financial troubles and was found guilty of obstructing an emergency vehicle after he blocked an ambulance at an immigrants rights rally last month.

Williams was impeding an ambulance carrying his friend, an immigrant rights activist who had been informed he would be detained, and then fainted. Williams also was booked for blocking traffic outside Trump Tower in the wake of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The states gubernatorial race commanded most of the fanfare on the evening. Nixon, a former "Sex and the City" co-star, was widely predicted to lose the race, even as she insisted polls were underestimating her support. She had sought to mirror the success of Ocasio-Cortez and capitalize on a series of missteps by Cuomo, who was roundly mocked last month for saying America "was never that great."

With nearly half of precincts reporting, though, Nixon was trailing Cuomo by more than 30 percentage points — putting her more in line with the dismal performance of Bernie Sanders son Levi in New Hampshire earlier this week.

Nixon had received the endorsement of the Working Families Party (WFP), an influential, progressive third party in New York. She was seeking to join the handful of insurgent liberal candidates who have sent shockwaves through the Democratic political establishment by unseating party favorites ahead of Novembers midterm elections.

The race had featured bitter attacks, with Nixon calling Cuomo a "bully" and Cuomos campaign dismissing her as "unhinged."

Zephyr Teachout at a debate last month among Democratic candidates for state attorney general.  (AP)

Both Cuomo and Nixon sought to make the election about Trump. "Together, we can show the entire country that in the era of Donald Trump, New Yorkers will come together and lead our nation forward," Nixon wrote Wednesday evening in a final message to supporters. 

Cuomo, for his part, spent millions on ads to argue that hes the most qualified candidate to push back against the White House. He also touted liberal accomplishments such as gun control, free public college tuition and a higher minimum wage.

Cuomo is set to face Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, an independent, in the November general election. 

In an unusual move, Cuomo was a no-show at his own election night victory party and instead celebrated his win at the governors mansion in Albany.

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