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Bridging The Gap
How New York Gov. Cuomo was able to crush Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary
  Monday 17 September, 2018
How New York Gov. Cuomo was able to crush Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo left little to chance in his Democratic primary fight against Cynthia Nixon, a race that drew national attention.

Cuomo, a master at using the levers of power in government, turned all the resources of his campaign and office to his advantage.

He was able to use more than $21 million in campaign spending to tout his record over the past eight years and beat back attacks on scandals that have rocked his administration to land a blowout victory Thursday over the neophyte Nixon.

More: Andrew Cuomo cruises to easy win over Cynthia Nixon in New York gubernatorial primary

"We have provided real-life progressive solutions. You cannot have the word 'progressive' without the word 'progress.' It doesn’t work," Cuomo said at a news conference Friday.

Cuomo beat Nixon 66 percent to 34 percent in the primary, on par with his primary victory over Zephyr Teachout in 2014.
Turnout up

The margin of victory came amid a surge in voter turnout: 24 percent of total enrolled Democrats cast a ballot on Thursday compared to 10 percent in 2014.

Cuomo was able to galvanize union support that eluded him in 2014 and that aided turnout along with a Democratic base that is more engaged following President Donald Trump's election.

Turnout was also boosted by heavily contested primaries in the New York City area, in particular, that led to seven Democratic incumbents in the Senate to lose their seats — a remarkable result in a state where incumbents rarely lose.

More: Cuomo vs. Nixon: Battle heats up over who will lead New York's Trump 'resistance'

The Democrats' ire was directed mainly at the former eight-member Democratic Independent Conference, who had aligned with Republicans over much of the past seven years in the Senate, drawing criticism that they blocked progressive legislation.

Six of the eight ex-IDC members lost in primaries, including its former leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, who spent $2 million on his race but still fell to Alessandra Biaggi in a race that stretched into Westchester.

”Voters again made it clear that this is a new day and politics as usual are no longer acceptable," said Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, who heads the mainline Democratic Conference and brokered a unity deal with Klein in April that didn't stave off IDC challengers.

Cuomo's power

It wasn't just that Cuomo blanketed the airwaves with television ads and ads on social media.

He used the power of his office to boost his standing, which drew criticism from his foes, but nonetheless helped him.

"When others were underestimating us, he did not — and he spent accordingly," Nixon said at the opening of her concession speech.

Nearly 1 million property-tax rebate checks were sent out before the primary, when they typically don't go out until late fall and through the winter.

Cuomo's office said the process became more efficient, so the checks went out earlier this year.

More: With Cynthia Nixon’s move left in New York, will other leading Democrats follow?

Others saw it different.

"The Senate was complaining most loudly about delays in the checks in previous years, and this year’s earlier posting could be seen as a response to those complaints that conveniently serves the governor’s interests as well," said E.J. McMahon, who heads the fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy.

Cuomo will face Republican candidate Marc Molinaro on the November ballot, as well as several third-party candidates, including Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe and Serve America Movement candidate Stephanie Miner.

Cuomo's aggressiveness also came with peril.

He held a huge ceremony the Friday before the primary to tout the opening of the second span of the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge in the Hudson Valley, only for the span's opening to be delayed several days.

And in the days leading up to the primary, Cuomo's campaign was embroiled in controversy over an anti-Semitic mailer it sent out about Nixon -- which the campaign later admitted was inappropriate.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/09/14/cuomo-crushed-cynthia-nixon-democratic-primary/1305128002/

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