Cynthia Nixon keeps NY gubernatorial dream alive for now

NEW YORK: Cynthia Nixon, the Sex and the City”actress running for New York governor, kept her political dreams alive Thursday by collecting enough signatures to contest the Democratic Party primary against the two-time establishment incumbent.

The 52-year-old education and gay rights activist, and award-winning stage and screen actress, is part of a progressive wave of insurgent candidates hoping to rebrand the Democratic Party and its fight against President Donald Trump.

Four months after launching her bid to become the first woman and first openly gay governor of America's fourth most populous state, Nixon announced in Brooklyn on Thursday that she had collected 65,000 signatures.

She needed 15,000 to get her name on the Sept 13 ballot against Governor Andrew Cuomo, the son of a former governor who served in the Clinton administration and is considered a Democratic presidential hopeful for 2020.

“Today, across New York, people want change. We're sick of centrist, corporate Democrats who take money from the likes of Donald Trump,” Nixon said Thursday, paying tribute to “more than 3,500 volunteers” who worked on her behalf.

Nixon is running a left-wing, outsider insurgent campaign championing economic equality and eschewing big business. She is calling for better public schools, more affordable housing and women's healthcare protections.

She has called for the legalisation of marijuana and attacked Cuomo over the crisis-plagued subway system. Her characterisation of US immigration agency ICE as a “terrorist organisation” earned a rebuke from the Trump White House.

It is a brand of politics finding traction among younger urban liberals, disillusioned with their party elite in the age of Trump and facing mountains of college debt and uncertainty over healthcare under the president.

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Yet polls give her only the remotest chance of unseating Cuomo, who though more centrist also considers himself a progressive, and tops Nixon 61% – 26%, according to the most recent survey, conducted by Siena College in June.

'Revealed the chance'

Instead, the mother of three has seized on the successes of other outsider candidates as a sign that the progressive wing may be on the march.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old leftist and political novice, last month became the face of a new breed of Democrat after defeating 10-term congressman Joe Crowley in a New York primary, despite being heavily outspent.

“It is not so much that it changed my chances, but it revealed the chance,” Nixon told AFP earlier this week.

“With Donald Trump in the White House, we have an opportunity here to lead the country in a different direction, to offer a better alternative,” she said.

Cuomo, who shored up his own progressive credentials by agreeing to raise the minimum wage to US$15 (RM61), is backed by powerful financial donors and political superpowers, endorsed by the likes of Hillary Clinton.

Nixon dismisses polls as “less and less reliable”, pointing to Ocasio-Cortez and Trump as two recent examples of shock political victories.

“There is a discontent with how broken our electoral system, our political system is and people are turning out to demand change, like I have never seen before in my lifetime,” Nixon told AFP.

Close to left-leaning New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, she echoes language used by 2016 Democratic Party presidential contender Bernie Sanders, who electrified the left before ultimately losing to Hillary Clinton.

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“Some more establishment, corporate Democrats get very scared by this term but if democratic socialism means that you believe health care, housing, education and the things we need to thrive should be a basic right not a privilege then count me in,” Nixon said in the statement to Politico.

New York-born and raised, she shot to international fame as workaholic lawyer Miranda on Sex and the City from 1998-2004. She has mined that connection by offering campaign merchandise playing on the Miranda name.

She has never previously held elected office and is part of a surge of women running for office in the Trump era. Only eight of the current 50 US state governors are women. The New York gubernatorial election is on Nov 6. — AFP

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