Some people have tried to compare long-time Sex in the City actress Cynthia Nixon to Donald Trump. While both might be celebrity figures with no political experience, one admitted a few days ago that he repaid a $130,000 payment his lawyer made to actress Stephanie Clifford, better known by her porn star name “Stormy Daniels.”
The other has been an activist for almost two decades, a long term advocate for public education awarded by the Human Rights Campaign for her work in the LGBTQ community. One rose to become the president of our country, and the other is running for governor of New York State, against Andrew Cuomo, a darling of the Democratic Party.
In an interview last month with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Nixon answered a question about whether the United States needed “another celebrity in office.” Colbert said: “we’ve got one in the White House and that isn’t working out very well.” “I think that first and foremost Donald Trump is a real estate developer and he has inherited his money and his company from his father. That could not be more different from me,” she told Colbert.
Nixon continued to explain that she grew up in New York in a one-bedroom five-flight walk-up with a single mom, went to public school, and began acting when she was 12 in order to pay for Barnard College of Columbia University because her family couldn’t afford to do so. “I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with celebrity in politics because it gives you a platform,” Nixon said.
Drawing differences between herself and Trump, she added: “Do you choose to give yourself and other one-percenters a massive tax break they don’t need? Or do you choose to advocate for important things that need your voice like LGBTQ equality or women’s health or women’s rights, including a woman’s right to choose, or better public schools which I have been advocating for and fighting for the better part of 20 years.” Many Bernie Sanders supporters are expected to back Nixon for governor.
On April 30, Nixon received her first endorsement from an elected official from NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the City’s first Mexican-American council member and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Immigration. The announcement came as a breakthrough for Nixon, who earlier received an endorsement by the Working Families Party (WFP). The WFP endorsement ensures Nixon a spot on the November ballot, even if she is defeated by Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary election.
That said, Nixon has yet to announce whether she would run on the WFP line in November if she loses the Democratic primary.
Governor Cuomo is supported by various prominent legislators including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He currently enjoys a double digit lead as compared to Nixon in the governor’s race. A new survey from Quinnipiac University showed that 75 percent of Democrats preferred “experience” to only 17 percent who said they preferred a candidate who is “new to politics.” Nixon has never held elected office. Like Bernie Sanders, she considers herself an outsider.
At her campaign kick-off event, Nixon indicated that her choice to run against Cuomo wasn’t something that came out of nowhere. “It comes from a choice. It comes from a choice to slash taxes for corporations and the super-rich and slash services on everybody else. And it’s a choice we’re used (to seeing) being made by Republicans like Donald Trump. But for the past eight years, it is a choice that’s been made by our governor, Andrew Cuomo.” Nixon has questioned whether Cuomo himself is a “real Democrat” and has accused the Governor of being beholden to corporate donors and furthering corruption in Albany.
Among her most visible platforms, Nixon has promised to legalize and tax marijuana, end cash bail, push for single-payer health care and renewable energy, fix the subways, end the school-to-prison pipeline and increase funding to public schools, even if that means raising taxes. Cuomo has a record of progressive achievement, which includes delivering on his promises for paid family leave, implementing a $15 minimum wage and gaining tuition-free college for certain New Yorkers. While Cuomo is commonly viewed as a moderate Democrat, Nixon has positioned herself as very liberal.
Nixon’s run for governor comes at a time when more and more women are choosing to run for elected office. Four hundred and seventy-two women have entered the race for the House of Representatives this year. Fifty-seven women have filed or are likely to file their candidacies for the Senate. The number of women likely running for governor this year, seventy-eight, is record setting. The majority of female candidates in 2018 are Democrats.
It’s safe to assume their runs are inspired by a debilitating 2016 presidential election that didn’t just result in Hillary Clinton being defeated, but also in a chauvinistic Donald Trump becoming president. Thousands of women marched on the streets of Washington D.C. with frustration and fury the day after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and did so again this year. Perhaps more women are running, including those without political experience, because heck – if the country could elect someone as inept and unqualified as Donald Trump, who himself has never let inexperience hold him back – why shouldn’t they?
I’m not saying I’ll be voting for Nixon in the fall, but I will say it’s impressive to see her give Governor Cuomo reason to campaign aggressively, as Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout also did in 2014. Nixon is forcing the Governor to think about progressive policies by blasting him on the campaign trail. “New York is the single most unequal state in the entire country, and it’s become more and more unequal under Andrew Cuomo,” Nixon said recently. While it’s close to certain that Andrew Cuomo will be our governor for another term come November, according to New York Magazine, Cynthia Nixon has already won.
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.