ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo, facing a tough primary challenge on the left from actress Cynthia Nixon, on Wednesday easily snared his party’s nomination for a third term at the state Democratic convention.
With Cuomo winning more than 95% of the vote, Nixon failed to get anywhere near the 25% she needed to guarantee her a spot on the primary ballot. She said she will seek to gather thousands of petition signatures across the state to get on the ballot.
Cuomo’s nomination was seconded by his mother, former state First Lady Matilda Cuomo, as well as three students — one a survivor of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla. — who all were touched by gun violence and who praised Cuomo’s enactment of tough gun laws. A short chant of “Four more years,” followed.
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Nixon’s nomination was seconded by her old high school teacher, Janice Warner, who praised her as a “true progressive, a true Democrat,” and said, “if you only know Cynthia Nixon as a celebrity, you don’t know Cynthia.”
Nixon showed at the convention even though she said she knew she would not get the 25% of the vote needed to get on the ballot. She did not stick around for the tally.
“I’m here because I think it’s important that at a Democratic convention there be at least one Democrat running for governor,” she said, accusing Cuomo of governing like a Republican.
“I’m not a protest candidate. I’m a viable candidate who is really running hard for the Democratic nomination, and that’s why I’m here, to say this is my party, too, I’m not afraid and I’m here. You can’t shut me out.”
Cuomo did not attend to watch his name be placed into nomination. He is set to give an acceptance speech on Thursday, where he will be introduced by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Before Cuomo and Nixon’s names were entered into nomination, the convention opened like a coronation for the two-term incumbent, with Cuomo allies praising his record and painting him as a progressive who does more than talk.
Two ministers who gave the convention’s opening prayer spent more time talking up Cuomo than they did God.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Cuomo’s handpicked chairman of the state Democratic Party, called New York “the progressive capital of the nation.”
Brown and other speakers cited Cuomo’s successful push to legalize gay marriage, pass tough gun control laws, enact a $15-an-hour minimum wage and establish the state’s first paid family-leave program.
Brown then took a veiled shot at Nixon, saying, “This is not Democratic rhetoric. It is a new Democratic reality.”
Nixon dismissed Cuomo’s dominance at the convention. She and her team believe progressives who will turn out to vote in the primary don’t trust the governor.
“I think that Andrew Cuomo can get all the endorsements that he wants,” Nixon said before the vote. “The fact of the matter is people are going to be voting on his record, which is not very progressive, which is why he’s so anxious to shore up all this money and all these endorsements.”
Cuomo was nominated by Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
But it was Cuomo’s mom and the three students who stole the moment.
Matilda Cuomo frequently invoked her late husband, former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, who remains a darling of the left.
“I feel in many ways Mario still lives through Andrew’s work, and I know he is looking down on us right now, smiling,” the proud mother said.
The three students who spoke on behalf of Cuomo were Aalayah Eastmond, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Christopher Underwood, a sixth-grader at Eagle Academy Ocean Hill in Brooklyn, and Avalon Fenster, a sophomore at Stony Brook School and director of diversity at Next Generation Politics.
Eastmond recalled how she was in a room where two others died during the Feb. 14 Parkland massacre.
“We stand here on behalf of gun safety activists to second the nomination of Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York State,” the students said in unison.
Nixon was nominated by Zakiyah Ansar, the advocacy director of the Alliance For Quality Education, who praised her education activism while ripping Cuomo’s education record.
Seconding her nomination was City Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
Later in the day, the convention was expected to nominate Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul over primary challenger and City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who also is expected to have to go the petition route.
The delegates also were set to deal with the sudden opening for attorney general after two-term AG Eric Schneiderman recently resigned in disgrace following a New Yorker magazine article alleging he physically assaulted four women.
City Public Advocate Letitia James is considered the heavy favorite to get the convention nod over former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve and Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout.