ALBANY — A top Long Island Democratic leader fears actress Cynthia Nixon could hurt the party’s chances of capturing the state Senate if she gets the progressive Working Families Party line for governor.
Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said he’s heard from multiple state Senate candidates who say they will consider forgoing the WFP line if Nixon is the gubernatorial candidate.
Republicans, Jacobs said, already try to tie suburban candidates to Mayor de Blasio and a liberal New York City agenda.
Nixon, who is close to the mayor, would be painted by the GOP on Long Island as a de Blasio clone and part of the Hollywood elite, Jacobs said.
Photos of Nixon through the years:
“Cynthia Nixon and a far-left agenda in Nassau County does not win, and it’s a big loser in Suffolk,” Jacobs, an ally of Gov. Cuomo, said. “Taking the Working Families Party line is one thing, but who the standard-bearer is defines the message for voters.”
Nixon is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary and is being considered for the WFP nomination.
Jacobs said he has expressed his concerns to WFP state Director Bill Lipton.
A second Long Island Democratic leader echoed Jacobs’ sentiment and said he, too, has spoken with Lipton about his concerns.
The WFP has been wrestling with whether to support Cuomo, who many within the party feel is not progressive enough, or a different candidate. The unions that help fund the minor party are with Cuomo, while the activist base wants someone else.
The party’s nominating convention is in May.
“The 232 grass-roots activists on the state committee have a very important decision to make; stay tuned,” Lipton said.
A source close to the party said using Jacobs’ logic, Cuomo should give up his Independence Party line since that party has already endorsed Republican congressional candidates the governor has targeted, like Rep. Tom Reed of upstate Steuben County.
A Democrat involved in Long Island races said that party candidates “have always run with the Working Families Party line. It’s always been an asset, and I’m sure it will be again.”
Democratic insiders say Nixon heading the WFP line, which has backed Cuomo the past two campaigns, could be the “disaster scenario” for the governor. Nixon, along with a separate liberal Green Party candidate, could draw enough votes away from Cuomo that the Republican candidate would not need to reach 50% to beat him. Also, there is the question of whether de Blasio, who is at war with Cuomo, would help Nixon. Four years ago, the mayor traveled to Albany to work on behalf of the governor when it appeared he was about to lose the WFP line to little-known Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout. No one expects de Blasio would offer such help again, insiders say.
“This time de Blasio is going to go and say, ‘Don’t believe him. He’s a liar. He lied to you. He lied to me.’ That’s what’s scary about it if you’re the governor,” said one Democratic political insider.
“The Democratic primary is irrelevant,” the source said. “He’s going to win. Who cares? (But) if she’s on the WFP line and gets some traction and (the Republican candidate) plays it smart, it’s a real problem for him.”