Cynthia Nixon camp partially blames high turnout for loss
Progressive activist Cynthia Nixon on Thursday night lamented high voter turnout as a result of spending from her opponent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who easily defeated her in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
In a memo sent to reporters as polls closed, Nixon’s campaign sought to justify their candidate’s performance while blaming high voter turnout advocated by Cuomo as one reason she fell so far behind the incumbent Democrat.
Nixon’s team cited what they called an “unconscionable influx in spending” from Cuomo’s campaign, labor unions and the state Democratic Party, which Cuomo helps fund and which sent mailers critical of Nixon to voters across the state.
“The result of this unconscionable influx in spending is that turnout is extremely high throughout the state today,” Nixon’s team wrote in the memo. “This is likely due to two factors: tens of millions of dollars in advertisements from Andrew Cuomo pushing voters to the polls; and a desire on the part of prime Democratic voters to send a message to [President] Trump for the first time since his election.”
Moments after she castigated spending leading to high voter turnout, Nixon’s campaign also blamed New York election laws for low voter turnout.
Voting rights experts have in fact lambasted the Empire State for its restrictions on absentee and early voting, and for its frequent purges of its voter rolls, which often sweep up regular voters.
Nixon’s team said fewer polling hours in upstate New York, where they said their candidate polled better than in New York City, and reports of voting problems in New York City neighborhoods where Nixon polled better than anywhere else, had combined to squelch their vote.
“[P]olling places were open for fewer hours in many upstate counties than in New York City and its suburbs today. Cynthia routinely polled higher in upstate, while Cuomo’s strength was in the counties where polls were open before work. Finally, there have been rampant reports today that many voters in Cynthia’s base neighborhoods (eg, Brownstone Brooklyn) were unable to vote in their polling locations,” the memo reads.
The memo also suggested that Nixon had fallen victim to the same set of circumstances as liberal challengers to incumbent Democrats in Rhode Island and Delaware earlier this week. The campaign cited wins by Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), both of whom beat little-known opponents who challenged them from the left.
“The trend this week in statewide primaries involving incumbents has been clear: the centrist, corporate-backed incumbent with a massive war chest and statewide name ID has won in blow-outs,” the memo reads.
Nixon’s campaign contrasted Cuomo, Carper and Raimondo with congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bested Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y) to win the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat in Queens.
The district Ocasio-Cortez won voted for Hillary Clinton by a 57-point margin in 2016. New York went for Clinton by a 22-point margin; Delaware gave Clinton an 11-point edge; and Rhode Island favored the Democratic presidential nominee by 15 points.
With 58 percent of precincts reporting on Thursday night, Cuomo led Nixon by 32 percentage points in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The Associated Press called the race within half an hour of polls closing.
Still, Nixon’s team argued that Cuomo’s win margin was nothing to celebrate for the incumbent.
Her campaign argued that falling short of the 41-point margin predicted in a recent Siena College poll “would be a major embarrassment and significant under-performance for the two-term incumbent.”
“Indeed, were he to fail to hit that margin, it’s fair to assume heads will be spinning in Cuomo Land tonight,” her team wrote.
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