Andrew Cuomo defeated Cynthia Nixon in New York’s Democratic primary Thursday, all but securing his third term as governor of New York and proving machine politics are alive and well in the Empire State. In the end, the contest was roughly as close as polls indicated. Cuomo, who, led by more than 35 points in every survey conducted, had a significant lead when the race was called at 9:30 p.m. ET by the AP. By the time the dust settled on Friday morning, Cuomo had captured 65.6% of the vote compared to Nixon’s 34.4%.
Nixon, best known for her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes on HBO’s Sex and the City, mounted a competitive challenge to the powerful political scion, hammering Cuomo on everything from his decision to shut down a corruption probe to his failure to maintain the New York City subway. Her message seemed to resonate strongest upstate, where she won the 11 counties immediately surrounding New York’s capital, Albany.
On Thursday night, Nixon told supporters she was proud of the race she’d run: “Ours isn’t just a symbolic victory. This campaign forced the governor to make concrete commitments that will change the lives of people across this state.” She took credit for changing Cuomo’s mind on legalizing marijuana and his attitude toward a group of rogue Democratic state senators, known as the I.D.C., who caucused with the chamber’s Republicans.
“For seven and a half years, the governor said he had no power to disband the I.D.C., the group of breakaway corporate Democrats who handed the State Senate to the Republicans. Then, two weeks into our campaign, he miraculously disbanded them,” Nixon said. On Thursday, six of the eight sitting I.D.C. senators were unseated by progressive challengers.
Cuomo managed to pull out the win in spite of a series of unforced errors in the campaign’s final stretch. The governor invited criticism for rushing a ceremonial ribbon-cutting of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and for his campaign’s involvement in an ugly mailer falsely painting Nixon — who is raising two of her children in the Jewish faith — as “silent on anti-semitism.” The governor denied any knowledge of the mailer, which was distributed at 7,000 addresses in Jewish neighborhoods, but reports showed his top aides were involved in its drafting.
On Thursday morning, it was clear Cuomo was feeling the pressure. His campaign took the unusual step of declining to make the governor’s election day schedule available to the state press corps, shunning even for the perfunctory polling place photo opportunity. Nixon, who has the endorsement of New York’s Working Families Party, will appear on the WFP line of the general election ballot, alongside Republican Marc Molinaro. Her campaign has not yet said whether she plans to continue campaigning through November.
Editors note: This post has been updated throughout.