Cynthia Nixon

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

Working Families Party Formally Endorses Cynthia Nixon For Governor

May 20, 2018 - 1:56 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Actress and activist Cynthia Nixon believes she is one step closer to challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic New York gubernatorial nomination.

As WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp reported, the Working Families Party formally endorsed Nixon in Harlem on Saturday.

“We can win!” Nixon said.

Nixon accepted the nomination at the First Corinthian Baptist Church, 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. She compared Cuomo with President Donald Trump, suggesting both are only interested in helping donors.

“Slashing taxes on powerful corporations and the super-rich while imposing strict austerity on everybody else – a choice to put profits before people,” Nixon said.

The speech may be a warmup for the Democratic convention coming up this week on Long Island. Nixon needs 25 percent of Democratic delegates onboard to make the campaign ballot without a petition.

A campaign source would not confirm if Nixon was going to the convention, but said she is taking it seriously.

Voters who came to the rally, such as Kelly Canzoneri of Co-Op City, the Bronx, said they are taking Nixon seriously after backing Cuomo in the past.

“Because I think Cuomo is too connected to big business, and some of the things he does are for more middle-class people and not working-class people,” Canzoneri said.

Also formally endorsed by the Working Families Party Saturday was New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-45th) for lieutenant governor.

In an unusual move, the party's state committee voted to back two hopefuls for attorney general: New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, whom Cuomo supports, and law professor Zephyr Teachout.

"There are two incredible progressive women in the race and New Yorkers would be lucky to have either as attorney general," said Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, which he said gave James and Teachout their start running for office.

Teachout, a professor at Fordham University, ran against Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014, winning 34 percent of the vote to his 62 percent.

"Gov. Cuomo would like nothing more than to have progressives fighting each other," Lipton told The Associated Press. "But we're committed to staying united."

Nixon, who has never run for office, will face Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Sept. 13.

If she loses, her name could still appear on the Working Families Party ballot line in the November general election. She has not said whether she would opt for that.

Polls show the two-time incumbent governor with a commanding lead over the novice candidate. A Quinnipiac University poll released May 2 found 50 percent of registered Democratic voters favor Cuomo compared to 28 percent for Nixon. The poll of 1,076 New York state voters conducted April 26 to May 1 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

The party first announced in April that it would embrace Cuomo's challenger over the governor.

Cuomo said he would not seek the backing of the party that had endorsed him in the past. Instead, the governor has gained the support of two major unions that pulled out of the Working Families Party over its support for Nixon.

The party was first organized in 1998 by a coalition of labor unions, plus a variety of community and advocacy groups aiming to represent middle- and working-class New Yorkers.

Abbey Fashouer, a spokeswoman for Cuomo's re-election campaign, has said the governor's progressive record is "unmatched," including helping to raise New York's minimum wage, and pushing for gun-safety legislation and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

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