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Drama Ahead Of New York State Democratic, Republican Conventions

May 22, 2018 - 5:21 pm
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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WCBS 880/AP) -- There was plenty of drama Tuesday, a day ahead of the New York state Democratic Convention at Hofstra University.

The state conventions are usually a formality, but such is not the case this year – with the prospect of electing a new attorney general.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned earlier this month. His resignation announcement came within hours after The New Yorker reported the allegations of abuse leveled by four women who had dated him in recent years. He had been expected to win easily in November.

On Tuesday, the New York State Assembly voted for acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood to keep the post through the end of the year. But she is not running to be elected to the seat.

“The leading candidate is New York City Public Advocate Letiita James,” said Politico New York’s Jimmy Vielkind. “It seems that she does have enough support from party leaders to win a spot on the ballot. What remains to be seen is whether someone else will be given a slot to have a primary run against her.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeing a fiery challenge within his own party from activist and former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon. While going to the convention is not required to get on the ballot, Nixon does plan to attend – though she is expected to win her place on the slot through petitions.

Still, Nixon will request the party’s nomination at the convention, Vielkind said.

“Her name will be placed in nomination by her high school history teacher, Ms. Janice Warner of the Bronx,” he said, “and again, it doesn’t appear that she will get enough support from the delegates to win that spot. Governor Cuomo in this crowd is the overwhelming favorite, and of course, polls show that he is ahead of Nixon and has a massive lead when it comes to his campaign war chest.”

Hillary Clinton, who supports Cuomo, will deliver the keynote address at the state Democratic convention.  Mayor Bill de Blasio told Errol Louis on NY1 Monday that he did not plan to attend.

Meanwhile, the state Republicans are also holding their convention at the Ziegfield Ballroom in Midtown. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is expected to win the gubernatorial nod, but it is not clear who will be nominated for attorney general or comptroller on the GOP side.

“Manny Alicandro of Brooklyn and Thomas Humback of Rockland County have put their name forward for AG. There are a few others as well. And for comptroller, there’s Jonathan Trichter, a Demoratic operative who worked for Harry Wilson, the (Republican) Party’s 2010 nominee, as well as Joel Giambra, a former executive from Erie County – that’s near Buffalo – who has for the last several years made his living as a lobbyist,” Vielkind said.

Whoever is nominated, Vielkind noted that Republicans face an uphill battle in vying for statewide office.

“It’s tough for Republicans in New York. They’re outnumbered two to one. Democrats control most of the levers of power and generally have much stronger campaign coffers,” Vielkind said. “It’s a little bit tougher this year with President Trump in the White House. He’s not a popular figure here in his home state.”

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)