Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Ricky Flores/The Journal News via USA TODAY NETWORK

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Easily Defeats Cynthia Nixon In N.Y. Primary

September 14, 2018 - 8:00 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily won renomination for a third term as governor Thursday night, defeating Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon.

The Associated Press called the race for Cuomo  at 9:30 p.m. With 29 percent of the precincts reporting, Cuomo had 66 percent of the vote compared to about 34 percent for Nixon.

The precincts that reported in included the most densely populated five boroughs of New York City, as well as some upstate counties.

Primary Day 2018: Live Coverage | Results

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported that as Steve Scott announced Cuomo’s victory on air, the first cheers went up at the Cuomo campaign on East 33rd Street. There was another huge cheer when a red check mark went up next to Cuomo’s name on a TV screen, along with chants of, “Four more years.”

The rest of Cuomo's slate also won -- Kathy Hochul was renominated for lieutenant governor, while Letitia James won a four-way Democratic race for attorney general.

Cuomo will run against Republican Marc Molinaro for a third term in November.

Pre-election polling consistently showed Cuomo ahead, and his team largely treated nomination for a third term as a fait accompli. It was not clear whether Cuomo would come to the headquarters and make a statement, Lamb reported.

At a hookah lounge headquarters in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Nixon was watching the returns with candidates for two other offices in which no winner had been declared at the time Cuomo’s victory was announced – lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams and attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout.

The word “moral victory” was being thrown around at the party. The moral victory, as Nixon’s campaign put it, was if Nixon outpaced the vote totals for Teachout when she ran against Cuomo in the primary four years ago.

Teachout got about 34 percent of the vote that year, on par with what Nixon received.

When she came out to speak to supporters, Nixon gave a pep talk to thunderous cheers – characterizing her candidacy as the opening shots in a burgeoning progressive political movement.

"This campaign forced the governor to make concrete commitments that will change the lives of people across the state," Nixon said.

Nixon added: "It's not just enough to be better than Donald Trump. We have to give people something to show up and vote for."

It has been a long and sometimes nasty primary contest between Cuomo and Nixon, who is an activist and former "Sex and the City.”

It was a particularly high-profile example of the insurgent left-wing that is seeking to oust establishment incumbents who they say have failed to deliver on liberal promises.

Andrew Mark Cuomo is 60 years old and is a powerful political operator born into a political family. He is the 56th governor of New York, while his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, was the 52nd.

As Lamb reported, the present Gov. Cuomo was an integral part of his father’s campaigns. As governor, he controls the machinery of the state Democratic Party, and lined up support from the party establishment early on.

The challenge from Nixon came from the left, so the incumbent governor has made an effort to emphasize his progressive credentials – pointing to his record of passing strict gun control legislation, free tuition, same-sex marriage, and family leave measures.

Cuomo and Nixon met for a debate only once.

When asked by CBS2’s Maurice DuBois why she was running at the debate late last month, Nixon touted her record as a political activist, and an activist in favor of public education, marriage equality, and other issues. She said Cuomo had “broken” the subway, and accused him of handing over control of the state Senate to the Republicans and surrounding themselves with corruption.

In rebuttal, Cuomo said the governor’s office is not an activist position.

“The governor of New York is not a job about politics. It’s not about advocacy. It’s about doing. It’s about management. This is real life,” Cuomo said. "Governor of New York, you're running a $170 billion budget. You're in charge of fighting terrorism. You're there in case of fires and floods and emergencies and train wrecks. You have to deal with a Legislature that's very, very difficult, and today you've got to deal with Donald Trump, who is the main risk to the state of New York. He is trying to change the rights and values of New Yorkers, and the first line of defense is New York, and the governor leads that fight, and you need to know how to do it."

Cuomo focused largely on Trump at the debate, while taking some jabs at Nixon. Nixon in turn said, “Can you stop lying,” when Cuomo asked her to stop interrupting.

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