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Cuomo, Hochul, James win Democratic primary

Mike Desmond/WBFO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo handily won  in a Democratic primary against  actor Cynthia Nixon. Cuomo’s current lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul also won, as did Cuomo’s choice for attorney general, New York City Public Advocate Tish James.

A large campaign war chest, substantial spending on television ads and union support paid off for Cuomo, as he beat back a primary challenge from the left from actor and education advocate Cynthia Nixon.

Cuomo did not appear in public, but in recent days focused his message not on his accomplishments or on his opponent, but on his fight against President Trump and Trump’s policies - and it seems the strategy paid off.

Cuomo held multiple get out the vote rallies in the days leading up to the primary.

“I want to send a message to this President,” Cuomo told supporters on Sept. 10. “It’s every New Yorker who believes you are repulsive to what we believe.”

Nixon told supporters that she was “proud” of what her campaign accomplished.

“We took on one of the most powerful governors in America and it wasn’t easy,” said Nixon. “We had to fight just to get on the ballot. We had to fight just to get a debate.”

But she expressed some bitterness over dirty campaign tactics, including a mailer to Jewish voters  approved by a top aide to Cuomo that falsely accused Nixon of anti-Semitism. Nixon attends a synagogue and has Jewish children.

“My family was slandered,” Nixon said.

Nixon says she’s pleased that she pulled Cuomo to the left on several issues, including  legalizing marijuana, and that she caused him to spend nearly half a million dollars a day on the race.

Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, more narrowly defeated New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who is better known  in New York City. Hochul sounded relieved when she spoke to reporters in  Buffalo Thursday night.

“I was going into it as an underdog, a lot of people said that the numbers would be against me” Hochul. “We’ve been fighting tooth and nail for every single vote.”

And the Democratic Party establishment’s choice for Attorney General, New York City Public Advocate Tish James, won the AG primary, ahead of Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Buffalo attorney Leecia Eve.  

While Cuomo and the other statewide candidates who ran with him kept their seats, some former members of a controversial break away group of Democrats in the Senate lost to their primary challengers. Members of the Independent Democratic Conference were blamed by many democrats on the left for helping keep Republicans in power in the State Senate for the past several years. Among those who lost was former IDC leader Jeff Klein.

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.