Live coverage: Cuomo, Nixon face off in high-stakes New York primary

Live coverage: Cuomo, Nixon face off in high-stakes New York primary
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Voters in New York will head to the polls on Thursday for the final primary of the 2018 midterm elections.

The most notable race is the nationally watched Democratic gubernatorial primary between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon.


Polls indicate that Cuomo should cruise to victory and be poised for a third term. But Nixon believes she can convert progressive energy into an upset victory.

New York already held a June primary for its federal elections, where Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez landed a huge upset over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D). New Yorkers will now vote in local and statewide primaries.

Also keep an eye on the Democratic attorney general race, which has become a three-way nail-biter between Letitia James, a New York City public advocate, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and progressive law professor Zephyr Teachout.

Polls close at 9 p.m.

Cuomo's running mate wins primary

11:04 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul beat back a challenge from New York City Council member Jumaane Williams, setting her up to seek a second term in office.

For much of the night, the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor appeared tight. But Hochul pulled ahead as votes from western New York came in.

She was projected to win, having earned 52.8 percent of the vote after 90 percent of precincts had reported, according to the Associated Press.

Williams had challenged Hochul from the left, and he was endorsed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign Capitalism: The known ideal MORE (I-Vt.), who did not endorse anybody in the governor's race.

Hochul briefly served in the House after winning a special election in 2011. She was defeated in her 2012 re-election bid by Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsHouse Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for Fighting AIDS domestically and globally means pushing more evidence-based services House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 MORE (R-N.Y.).

Collins was indicted earlier this year on insider trading charges and has since suspended his re-election campaign.

– Max Greenwood

Letitia James win AG race in historic win

10:38 p.m.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has emerged from four-way Democratic primary to take the party's nomination for New York attorney general.

She's now on track to become the first African-American woman elected to statewide office in New York.

James edged out law professor Zephyr Teachout and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) in the race. Another Democrat, Leecia Eve trailed in a distant fourth place when the race was called.
Several recent polls showed James as the favorite for the nomination, but a Siena College survey released this week put Maloney in the No. 1 spot.
James will face off against law firm partner Keith Wofford in November, who was unchallenged in his primary.
– Max Greenwood 

Surge in voter turnout signals intense enthusiasm

10:05 p.m.

Voter turnout in New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary has already far surpassed 2014 levels – a sign of intense voter enthusiasm.

In the 2014 primary, a little more than 574,000 Democrats cast their votes in the primary between Cuomo and then-gubernatorial hopeful Teachout, who's running in the attorney general primary on Thursday.

On Thursday, with only about 37 percent of precincts reporting, more than 683,000 people have cast their ballots in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Cuomo handily beat Nixon, though other races are yet to be called.

Other primaries have seen higher voter turnout this year, showcasing high dissatisfaction with President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE among Democratic voters and very competitive races in some of the Republican races.

 – Max Greenwood 

Cuomo scores easy win against Nixon

9:34 p.m.

Cuomo has coasted to an easy victory over Nixon in New York's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

With just about a quarter of precincts reporting, the AP called the race for for Cuomo, positioning him for a third-term in the governor's mansion.
Cuomo appeared headed to a convincing win, leading Nixon by 66.6 percent to 33.4 percent with 30 percent of precincts reporting.
Cuomo's triumph doesn't come as a surprise. Virtually every recent public poll showed the incumbent with an outsize lead over his progressive challenger. He drastically outspent Nixon in the race.
– Max Greenwood 

Molinaro wins uncontested GOP governor's nomination

9:20 p.m.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is officially the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee after winning his uncontested primary. He will face Cuomo or Nixon in November.

Before taking on the Duchess County role in 2012, Molinaro was a member of the New York State Assembly. He hasn’t spoken much about Trump, though he has acknowledged that he didn’t vote for the real estate mogul in 2016.

The Republican nominee for attorney general is Keith Wofford, a partner at the New York City office of the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, who also faced an uncontested primary.

Wofford is the first African-American to receive the GOP nod for attorney general in New York.

Both Molinaro and Wofford are likely to face an uphill battle in the general election. A Republican candidate hasn’t won statewide in New York since 2002 when George Pataki won a third term in the governor’s mansion.

– Max Greenwood 

Polls close in New York

9:00 p.m.

Polls have now closed in New York and first results should start coming out any minute.

Voter turnout is going to be key and it’s unclear whether holding the primaries on a Thursday will affect the numbers.

New York was among the states with the lowest voter turnout in 2016 and fewer people tend to cast their ballots in non-presidential election years. But the hype surrounding the Democratic gubernatorial primary in the state could motivate people to go to the polls.

L. Joy Williams, a senior adviser to Nixon’s campaign, tweeted earlier Thursday that early turnout numbers from a precinct in Brooklyn were more than twice what they were in the 2014 primary.



– Max Greenwood 

Chelsea Clinton votes

7:45 p.m.

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton praised poll workers and urged New Yorkers to vote in the state’s primary elections after casting her own ballot on Thursday evening.

“Just voted with Charlotte & we brought this sticker home for Aidan. Loved seeing so many people - and kids! - at the polls. Massive thank you to all the poll workers @BaruchCollege & across the state. If you haven’t voted yet, please do! Polls open until 9PM,” she tweeted.


While Clinton had not issued an endorsement in the widely watched Democratic gubernatorial primary between Cuomo and Nixon, her mother Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Why the national emergency? A second term may be Trump’s only shield from an indictment MORE had endorsed Cuomo, who is a longtime ally.

A number of celebrities have also weighed in on the race. Actress Amy Schumer vacillated between the two Democratic candidates but said she ultimately voted for Nixon. Rapper Cardi B also voted for Nixon, while Nicki Minaj endorsed Cuomo.

– Tal Axelrod  

New Yorkers report problems at the polls

6:46 p.m.

With just over 2 hours to go before polls close, people have been reporting problems when casting their votes.

Some said they discovered they had been mysteriously removed from the state’s voter roles, while others reported being barred from casting their ballots after their party affiliation had been switched without their knowledge.

Among those that reported having their name inexplicably stricken from voter rolls was HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen. 


Whether the problems reported on Thursday will have any bearing on election results – especially in New York’s hotly contested Democratic primary for attorney general – remains unclear.

But New York has long faced scrutiny for voting laws and procedures that some critics say create confusion and discourage people from casting their vote.

The state attorney general’s office found in 2016 that the New York City Board of Elections had improperly purged about 200,000 names in 2014 and 2015 from voter rolls.

– Max Greenwood

Cardi B and Nicki Minaj split their votes

6:25 p.m.

The rivalry between the two rappers also extends to their voting preference.

Cardi B on Thursday said she had thrown her weight behind Nixon, posting a picture of the actress on her Instagram account, who in turn, wrote back to express her thanks. 

That endorsement puts her at odds with Nikki Minaj, who has backed Cuomo.

The incumbent governor is the overwhelming favorite to win the primary according to the polls.

– Megan Keller

History will be made in New York's AG race

5:13 p.m.
No matter who wins in the four-way race for attorney general, somebody will be making history.
The race features three women: James, Teachout, and Verizon executive Leecia Eve. If any of them win Thursday's primary and go on to win in November, they would become the first woman elected as attorney general in New York.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) was appointed to the post after Eric Schneiderman (D) resigned amid allegations that he had physically assaulted women.
Meanwhile, the only man on the ballot, Maloney, would also make history if he wins in November by becoming the first openly gay official elected to statewide office in New York.
– Michael Burke

Amy Schumer ends up voting for ... Nixon

4:17 p.m.

Actress Amy Schumer has been vacillating between the two candidates up until the last minute.

At first, she appeared to favor Nixon by donating $10,000 to her campaign. Then this week she said she would actually support Cuomo.

“Andrew isn’t my fav dude But he’s good gov,” Schumer wrote on Instagram. “I wanted to vote Nixon, but sadly, i don’t believe she would know what the heck to do. She needs to be able to pressure the state legislature in stuff but I don’t believe she has enough connections upstate.”

But when decision time came on Thursday, Schumer said she had finally made up her mind. And her vote went to ... Nixon.

"We voted. And we voted for @cynthiaenixon couldn’t help it," she wrote on Instagram.

– Michael Burke

Ocasio-Cortez hits pavement

3:45 p.m.

Ocasio-Cortez was out in full campaign mode for Nixon, Teachout and other progressive candidates she's backed.

The young up-and-coming progressive star stunned the political world with her victory over Crowley and has become an active campaigner for other progressive candidates this campaign cycle.
Ocasio-Cortez was campaigning in Queens on Thursday, appearing alongside the attorney general candidate and lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams in a short video posted on Twitter urging voters to head to the polls.
Ocasio-Cortez had also campaigned for Nixon on Wednesday. The "Sex and the City" actress had endorsed the young democratic socialist ahead of her June primary against Crowley.
– John Bowden
Uncertainty in House race if Maloney wins AG primary

3:25 p.m.

A potential win Thursday night in the attorney general primary by Maloney could complicate the House race in his suburban New York congressional district.

But Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), the chairman of House Democrats' campaign arm, said Thursday that Democrats are well-positioned in New York’s 18th District even if Maloney wins the attorney general primary.

“If Sean Patrick is successful tonight, we’ll be in a strong place going forward in the 18th,” Luján told reporters.

President Trump narrowly beat out Hillary Clinton in Maloney’s district in 2016, but the House race is not seen as particularly competitive.

Luján said Thursday that he has not yet discussed any potential candidate replacements for Maloney should he win the attorney general primary.

“I have not personally spoken to anyone, but the team is doing their due diligence to make sure that we’re in the strongest place going forward,” he said.

– Max Greenwood

AG candidates campaign in tight race

2:40 p.m.

Candidates for New York Attorney General were also out campaigning as recent polling shows a tight race.

Teachout was the first to vote, writing on Twitter early Thursday morning that she is “so ready to be your next Attorney General” while posting a photo of herself casting a ballot. 

Meanwhile, James and Maloney each shared photos of themselves voting later in the morning, with James tweeting that she was proud to exercise her “most basic right to vote.”

Maloney urged supporters to “keep this moment building” after casting his ballot.

A recent Siena College poll showed a three-way race, with 25 percent of likely voters backing Maloney and 24 percent saying they’ll vote for James.

Teachout, a progressive, wasn’t far behind, polling at 18 percent.

The fourth candidate, Eve, was far behind in the polls.

– Michael Burke

Nixon to decide on Working Families line after primary
2:36 p.m.
Actor and activist Cynthia Nixon is going to win the nomination for governor on Tuesday — just not necessarily the one she wants.
Polls show Nixon trailing Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) by as much as 40 points in the race for the Democratic nomination. But Nixon is also on the ballot as a Working Families Party candidate, the only one in the race.
That means she’s almost certain to win the party line for November’s ballot, alongside her running mate, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams. 
New York election law allows candidates to seek multiple party lines in primary elections. Cuomo himself is also on the ballot as a candidate for the Independence Party and the Women’s Equality Party. 
Typically, if a candidate wins a minor party line but loses the major party nomination he or she is seeking, they drop the minor party nomination. But there’s no rule saying they have to opt out — and Nixon’s campaign said Thursday it would make any decision about minor party lines after the primary.
“Cynthia intends to win,” spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told The Hill. “If for some reason she does not, the decision about what to do next will be made following the election results.”
The Working Families Party has been a staple in New York’s multiline ballot since it was founded in 1998. Just over 41,000 active New York voters affiliate themselves with the party, less than one one-hundredth of the 5.6 million active Democratic voters in the state.
But the party punches above its weight: In 2014, Cuomo, then the Working Families Party nominee, scored 126,000 votes on the line, more than 10 percent of the 1.8 million votes he got on the Democratic line.
– Reid Wilson
Controversies mark end of governor's race

2:10 p.m.

Cuomo has faced some scrutiny in the last days of the primary campaign.

The New York State Democratic Party recently sent a mailer that falsely suggested that Nixon is anti-Semitic.

Cuomo's campaign has said it had nothing to do with the mailer, which party officials have called "a mistake and completely inappropriate," according to The New York Times.

Additionally, the Times separately reported that Cuomo pushed a contractor to finish a bridge in time for a late August open.

Cuomo conducted an opening ceremony for the structure last week and included it on a list of his infrastructure achievements.

How much these developments would impact the race is unclear. Polling has consistently shown Cuomo with a double-digit lead over Nixon.

– Megan Keller

Nixon campaigns, votes in New York City

1:40 p.m.

Nixon has been campaigning this morning in Union Square, a neighborhood in Manhattan, before casting her vote.

She wrote on Twitter about 10 a.m. that she was "greeting voters and voters-to-be" and also tweeted photos of herself voting earlier in the morning, saying "just cast my ballot for a New York that works for all of us." 

Nixon is closely associated with the city given she gained fame as an actress in "Sex and the City" and has been a longtime resident.

- Michael Burke 

Cuomo and Nixon get endorsed by celebrities

12:27 p.m.

This being New York, celebrities have also weighed in.

In Cuomo's camp are rapper Nicki Minaj and actress Amy Schumer, with the comedian writing on Instagram that Nixon wouldn't "know what the heck to do." 

But rapper T.I. has gone with Nixon, tweeting a video in which the actress talks about her support for  legalizing marijuana, but he acknowledged not knowing much about the "Sex and the City" actress.

"I have no idea who this brilliant lady is," T.I. tweeted. "But she’s invited to my next bbq/family gathering and if she’s running for anything…ANYTHING I SAY..She's got my vote!!!" 

Meanwhile, "West Wing" alumni Richard Schiff and Allison Janney have thrown their support behind Nixon, saying people are tired of "cynical, self-serving corporate Democrats." 

– Michael Burke

Cuomo votes with girlfriend Sandra Lee

12:01 p.m.

Cuomo, accompanied by TV chef and longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee, voted in the New York primary in a polling station in Mt. Kisco, a village in Westchester, a little outside of New York City.

The governor's campaign for a third term comes amid rising speculation of presidential ambitions in 2020, though he has consistently tamped down such talk.

– Rafael Nam

Polls show Cuomo trouncing Nixon

11:48 a.m.

As voting continues to take place in New York, it's worth remembering where the governor's race stands in terms of recent polling.

One thing has been consistent — Cuomo has held an advantage over Nixon, and a big one at that.

Most recently, a Siena College poll showed Cuomo with a 41-point lead over Nixon, up from a 31-point lead in July. 

Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll in July showed Cuomo with a 36-point lead. 

But polls of primary races are notoriously less reliable than in a general election: polling ahead of the New York Democratic primary pitting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against Rep. Joseph Crowley had the Congressman up by double digits, but the challenger went on to pull off a sensational win. 

– John Bowden