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Cuomo compares potential rival Cynthia Nixon to Vladimir Putin, as new contender emerges

National Public Radio

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s unconcerned about the possibility of a primary from the left by Cynthia Nixon, and even made a joke linking to the actor and Russian interference in the U.S. elections.

It’s been reported that "Sex and the City" star and left-wing activist Cynthia Nixon has been talking to consultants linked to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about a possible primary challenge to Cuomo in the governor’s race this year. The governor and New York City mayor, both Democrats, have had a long running rivalry.

Cuomo was asked on a conference call about the possibility of Mayor de Blasio being behind Nixon’s potential run.

“I think it was probably either the Mayor of New York or Vladimir Putin,” Cuomo said with a chuckle. “I’m going to leave it to you great investigative reporters to follow the facts and ferret out the truth.”

A spokesman for the governor said Cuomo was just trying to have a bit of fun and is not linking Nixon to the Russian leader.

The governor was also asked whether he thinks the well-known actor would pose a serious challenge to his re-election efforts. He answered with a subtle put-down.

“Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor,” said the governor, who said if it’s just about name recognition, he hopes Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie or Billy Joel do not get into the race.

“That would really be a problem,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo has said he’s interested in seeking a third term in office, but has not yet formally announced his intentions.

Credit Twitter
This photo of Erie County Republican Chair Nick Langworthy (left) with Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro was quickly tweeted on Thursday, before an official announcement was made.

Meanwhile, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is telling more Republican Party leaders that he is a candidate for New York governor - even though he has yet to announce his plans to the voters.

In a letter to county party leaders obtained by the Associated Press, Molinaro confirmed that he will run for governor. He said he plans to hold a formal campaign announcement in the "near future."

The letter sent Tuesday said he is currently focused on his county's recovery from last week's nor'easter. Dutchess County also was subjected to a new storm on Wednesday.

Erie County Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy gave his endorsement, saying Molinaro is "the only candidate who can beat Andrew Cuomo in November."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.