Actress Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced she will challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary, presenting a threat from the left to his bid for a third term.

Ms. Nixon is best known for her role as Miranda Hobbes, a lawyer in HBO’s “Sex & the City,” but has also been involved in New York politics in recent years, calling for more funding of public education and stumping for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat.

In a video she posted to her Twitter account announcing her candidacy, she said New York’s political leaders have failed the state. “Half the kids in our upstate cities live below the poverty line,” she said. “Something has to change.”

The video shows her touring New York by train, walking through the streets of New York City, and riding the subway. If elected, she would be the first female and first gay governor of New York.

Ms. Nixon’s candidacy has been long rumored. As she began putting together a campaign staff in recent weeks, Mr. Cuomo has ramped up his political activities, appearing at antigun rallies and subsidized-housing developments, and touting endorsements from figures as far-flung as British singer Elton John. He has done little formal campaigning so far, however, in his bid for another term.

A Cuomo campaign spokesman on Monday pointed to Mr. Cuomo’s past passage of a minimum wage hike, a paid family leave program, and a ban on fracking, saying the governor would “build on that record,” and added: “It’s great that we live in a democracy where anyone can run for office.”

Mr. Cuomo defeated a liberal challenger, Zephyr Teachout, in 2014, 62% to 34%. Ms. Nixon, however, brings name recognition as an actress and political activist, and potential fundraising abilities to help her challenge one of the most-well funded governors in the country. Mr. Cuomo has some $30 million in his campaign account for a third term.

Ms. Teachout announced Monday she will be the treasurer of the Nixon campaign.

Ms. Nixon, 51-years old, also is closely allied with Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Cuomo’s longtime liberal adversary who has often criticized the governor for not backing liberal policies like a tax hike on the wealthy. Mr. Cuomo recently joked that either Mr. de Blasio or Russian President Vladimir Putin is encouraging Ms. Nixon to run.

The mayor didn’t comment on Monday but earlier this month praised Ms. Nixon as “extraordinary.”

Her bid gives voice to Democrats in the wake of the 2016 presidential primary who have criticized the Democratic Party as too moderate and allied with business interests.

“She represents bottom-up, people-powered politics versus top-down, donor-dominated business as usual,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, a public school advocacy organization long allied with Ms. Nixon.

A Siena College poll released Monday before Ms. Nixon’s announcement shows her trailing Mr. Cuomo, 66% to 19%, among New York Democrats in the September primary.

Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco , Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Joseph Holland, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, are running for the Republican nomination.

“We look forward to a healthy and honest conversation about how we restore the people’s trust in the governor’s office,” Mr. Molinaro said.

Mr. Cuomo maintains support among labor unions, donors and Democratic officials that he is expected to tap. He has already begun questioning if the Democrats should support a celebrity.

“If it’s just about name recognition, then I’m hoping Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race,” he said earlier this month about Ms. Nixon’s interest in running.

Even before Ms. Nixon announced her candidacy, Democratic New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said he wouldn’t support her. Citing Mr. Cuomo’s passage of same-sex marriage in 2011, he said Ms. Nixon should “reconsider” and endorsed Mr. Cuomo.

Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist and former Cuomo campaign adviser, said Monday that Ms. Nixon is running “in the right moment” and that Mr. Cuomo should be wary of running a negative campaign against her at a time when the Democratic Party is focused on women and gender issues. But, Mr. Sheinkopf said, Mr. Cuomo can run on his performance as governor while Ms. Nixon runs a campaign attacking him.

“It may be a great slugfest,” he said.

Write to Mike Vilensky at mike.vilensky@dowjones.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/cynthia-nixon-announces-primary-challenge-to-new-york-gov-andrew-cuomo-1521487199

On – 19 Mar, 2018 By Mike Vilensky

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