ALBANY – Activist Cynthia Nixon has spent five months bashing her Democratic opponent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in every conceivable manner.
And yet, Nixon said, she does not think Cuomo would be a worse governor than Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive running for governor on the Republican line.
Cuomo, she again claimed Thursday, is a phony progressive, has been an ally of Republicans, mirrors President Trump in many ways, oversees an administration hit by corruption that ensnared people close to him, and has been a reliable friend of big corporations seeking financial breaks from the state.
But after a small rally at a church in a low-income neighborhood a short distance from the state Capitol, Nixon was asked if Molinaro would make a better governor than Cuomo.
“I will not comment on that," Nixon said at first.
“But, no, I don’t," she said a moment later. “I actually don’t. I don’t think Governor Cuomo has been a good governor because I think he has largely been someone who talks like a Democrat but governs like a Republican. I think having someone who talks like a Republican and governs like a Republican would be a step down."
But Nixon stopped short of saying she will be part of any effort to unify Democrats behind one candidate – likely Cuomo if current poll standings are correct – if she loses the September Democratic gubernatorial primary. “I would prefer Cuomo to Molinaro, but that’s a question for after the primary," she responded.
Molinaro, via Twitter, responded saying that Nixon and he agree on very little. “But I thought we agreed on ending corruption, if that’s going to happen Cuomo has to go."
Nixon and Cuomo shared one thing in common Thursday: They were both upstate, a region they have spent far fewer days in during this campaign season than in Democratic-vote rich New York City.
Nixon appeared before a gathering of 60 or so people and interspersed her remarks with various plans for the state if she wins with bashing of both Cuomo and Trump.
For his part, Cuomo was in Tioga County, using the power of his incumbency – state-funded air travel, state-funded cameras to beam the event via the internet, and an assortment of advance people and traveling aides – to hand out a $10 million check for development efforts in the Village of Owego.
With the primary election just three weeks away, Nixon and her supporters urged people to rally to her campaign. She later told reporters she was unfazed about the polls showing her so far behind Cuomo. “I think the polls right now are not capturing the new progressive voters and the hunger for real change," she said.
Next week, Cuomo and Nixon will meet on Long Island for what’s likely their only debate – despite Nixon’s call for numerous one-on-one sessions with the incumbent governor. On Thursday, Nixon said she had not really done much preparing yet for the session other than thinking up possible questions she might be asked.
Nixon would also not discuss her plans if she loses the Democratic primary. She already is on the gubernatorial ballot on the Working Families Party line. But she has not committed to staying on that line if Cuomo defeats her in the Democratic primary. Some analysts believe Cuomo faces his greatest threat if he faces a multiple field in the general election against Molinaro, Nixon running a serious campaign and several minor party candidates, including former Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner who is on a new independent line.