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Chelsea Now: Spar and the City: CRDC Sees Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo Proxy Trade Jabs

By Donathan Salkaln, May 23

Since March 19’s announcement of her run for governor, Cynthia Nixon, a lifelong NYC activist and star of the hit series “Sex and the City,” has forged a surprisingly effective campaign. While garnering support, she has also pushed Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider many important left-wing issues — including April’s trifecta of trying to get a Democratic majority in the NY State Senate, a ban on plastic bags, and the legalizing of recreational marijuana. To many, Nixon has become a superhero firefly in lighting heat under the incumbent, “Mr. Big.”

On May 17, Nixon brought her battle for governorship to Chelsea by seeking an endorsement from the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC). The bout was witnessed by a crowd who packed the Hudson Guild’s John Lovejoy Elliott Center (441 W. 26th St.), and there was much buzz before Nixon’s arrival. The CRDC is celebrating its 60th year of political activism that has helped shape Chelsea to be one of the most compassionate, diverse, and exciting places in the world — and its members take endorsement voting very seriously. Nixon faced off against New York State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (Assembly District 75), representing the corner of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Nixon, 52, at a svelte 5′ 7″ (with a political reach also measured in feet and inches), was up against Gottfried, 71, shorter, maybe 150 pounds wet, and nearsighted (yet packing a political punch that crisscrosses the state). Gottfried is also a superhero to many. Since 1971, he has wielded the torch of human rights and healing in Albany and is currently pushing, among many bills, his single-payer healthcare bill (New York Health Act -A. 4738).

Nixon was first to speak: “I’ve long fought hard for LGBT, women’s rights, and for better schools. I know we can do better than we are now,” she began. “New York schools are the second-most unequally funded in the country. We’re going to fully fund schools by leveling the playing field for every part of the state without regard to that child’s zip code or skin color.” Her revenue stream, she explained, would come from taxing the rich for more of their fair share. Nixon would also fix “our broken subway,” as she finds subways deplorable, informing the audience, “I actually know that the governor is in charge of the MTA.” She also advocated for single-payer Medicaid, legalizing marijuana, and ending cash bail, adding, “We will hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable when they poison our people and communities.”

During the gathering’s Q&A period, Nixon was asked questions from the CRDC’s well-informed membership. On the deterioration of NYCHA housing, she declared, “Like so many things that need funding, Cuomo likes to divvy up money and let people plant flower gardens rather than repairing roofs and replacing boilers.” On Trump’s $5,000 cap on homeowner tax deductions, which might spur another wave of foreclosures and an exodus of big-ticket taxpayers, Nixon said, “New York is one of the smallest contributors to things that are state and locally funded. The state needs to take over a bigger share of things for localities, and when we do that taxes will go down.”

As for Governor Cuomo shutting down the investigation of Albany corruption by the Moreland Commission, Nixon exclaimed, “My first action as governor would be to reinstate the Moreland Commission! I’m not an Albany insider, which means my chief of staff was not convicted on three counts of bribery.” Describing herself as “a progressive fighter who is not accepting any corporate donations, and therefore not beholden to any particular industry,” Nixon, noted, “That’s what New York and rest of the country needs right now!”

After Nixon’s jabs sent Andrew Cuomo to the canvas, to the cheers of many in the room, Assemblymember Gottfried rose from Cuomo’s corner like a Jedi feeling the force — from both Albany and his heart. “Chelsea politics are nowhere near the politics of most of the state, and it takes a lot more than being an amazingly articulate and effective speaker,” Gottfried said of Nixon, adding, “You don’t get a lot done in a state with as much Republican and middle-of-the-road political power as New York has without a lot of experience, skill, and occasionally willing to be a son of a bitch,” Gottfried exclaimed. He continued, adding, “People who are now earning $15 an hour instead of $10 an hour, or who can get married, or who are less likely to have somebody with a submachine gun break into their school, or who don’t have fracking going on under the farm next to theirs — they can appreciate what Cuomo has been able to accomplish.”

Gottfried further rhapsodized on Cuomo with an effective barrage adding to the governor’s list of accomplishments. “During my adult life in New York,” he noted, “I’ve experienced four Democratic presidents, five Democratic mayors, and five Democratic governors. But I don’t think any of those 14 has a list of positive achievements like Governor Cuomo. Getting marriage enacted? Getting the strongest gun control laws in the country enacted? Raising the age for criminal responsibility enacted? Establishing transgender healthcare under the Medicaid program and adopting regulations for transgender rights? Fighting for decriminalization of public marijuana possession?”

Answering Nixon’s jabs on Cuomo’s NYCHA record, Gottfried said, “Governors and mayors have for decades done nothing about the New York City Housing Authority. Governor Cuomo has not just pounded the table, but done amazing work in providing money and strong mandates in getting a lot of things fixed.”

As both speakers retired to their corners to await the CRDC’s decision, it was surprising to this writer that there was no mention of Governor Cuomo as a first responder to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He brought money, supplies, and the know-how in aiding a devastated populace, while helping restore their electrical grid and pressuring President Trump for more federal aid.

In the end, the scorecard delivered clear, undisputed results: Andrew Cuomo won the CRDC endorsement for Governor over Cynthia Nixon — by just three votes. Kathy Hochul won Lt. Governor over Jumaane Williams. Barbara Underwood (current acting AG) won NYS Attorney General over, in order of votes, Preet Bharara, Letitia James, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Zephyr Teachout. Also winning endorsements were Thomas Di Napoli for NYS Controller; Richard Gottfried for NYS State Assembly, District 75; Brad Hoylman, NYS Senator, District 27; Liz Kruegar, NYS Senator, District 28; and Robert Jackson, NYS Senator, District 31, over former Independent Democratic Conference member and incumbent Marisol Alcantara. CRDC programs are open to the public. To learn more, please visit