Democratic Socialists endorse Cynthia Nixon for governor of New York

The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Cynthia Nixon’s bid for governor of New York on Sunday, giving the progressive challenger a coveted left-wing blessing and a potentially pivotal new source of dedicated volunteers.

Nixon, the actress and education activist who is challenging two-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination, is the first statewide candidate that DSA has endorsed.

The group’s prominence in electoral politics has grown significantly since the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a DSA member who defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for his House seat. The group played a key role in her victory.

21 PHOTOS
Cynthia Nixon out and about
See Gallery
Cynthia Nixon out and about
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: Cynthia Nixon attends the portrait unveilings of Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon starring on Broadway in the Manhattan Theatre Club's THE LITTLE FOXES, at Sardi's on June 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Actress Cynthia Nixon attends the 71st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Cynthia Nixon (L) attends the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 4: Cynthia Nixon attends 2017 Drama Desk Awards - Arrivals at Anita's Way on June 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Cynthia Nixon on stage at the 2017 The Lilly Awards at Playwrights Horizons on May 22, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Cynthia Nixon attends the Outer Critics Circle 2016-2017 Awards at Sardi's on May 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Best Actress in a Play Winner for 'The Little Foxes' Laura Linney and Best Featured Actress in a Play Winner for 'The Little Foxes' Cynthia Nixon pose at the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards Presentation at Sardi's on May 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Cynthia Nixon attends the 2017 Lilly Awards at Playwrights Horizons on May 22, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon attend the 83rd Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony at Marriott Marquis Times Square on May 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Cynthia Nixon -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney attend the 2017 Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Junket at the Sofitel Hotel on May 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Actor Cynthia Nixon attends 2017 Drama Desk Nominees reception at Marriott Marquis Times Square on May 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Actress Cynthia Nixon visits the SiriusXM Studios on April 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Christine Marinoni and wife Cynthia Nixon pose at the opening night after party for Manhattan Theatre Clubs production of 'The Little Foxes' on Broadway at The Copacabana on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney during the Broadway Opening Night Curtain Call bows for 'The Little Foxes' at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Cynthia Nixon attends the 2017 Afghan Hands fundraiser at Gabriel & Co Showroom on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Cynthia Nixon attends the cast photo call for the Manhattan Theatre Club's New Broadway Production of 'The Little Foxes' at the MTC Rehearsal studios on February 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: (L-R) Cynthia Nixon, Mario Cantone and Claudia Shear pose at the Opening Night Party for The New Group production of 'Evening at The Talk House' at Green Fig Urban Eatery at Yotel on February 16, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY19: American actress Cynthia Nixon gives a speech as people gather in front of Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, USA on January 19, 2017 during a demonstration to protest US President-elect, Republican, Donald Trump ahead of his inauguration which will be held in Washington. Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio,Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges participate the protest as well as celebrities including Robert De Niro, Marisa Tomei, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin, Mark Ruffalo, Cynthia Nixon, Michael Moore, Cher, Natalie Merchant . (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - DECEMBER 11: Cynthia Nixon arrives at the The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Actress Cynthia Nixon attends the 'Sweet Charity' Opening Night Afterparty at The Lindeman on November 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The chapter, which is the largest in the country, also endorsed Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

“Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams are the best chance we have to win universal rent control, Medicare for all and many other priorities for working people in New York,” said Abdullah Younus, co-chair of NYC DSA.

Nixon had eagerly sought the organization’s endorsement and declared earlier this month that she identified as a democratic socialist.

Nixon now stands to benefit from the group’s army of door-knockers, who will include a pitch for Nixon in canvassing campaigns for single-payer health care, rent control and the state Senate candidacy of DSA member Julia Salazar.

“I’m proud to receive this endorsement and look forward to working with DSA’s members to knock on doors and organize to defeat Andrew Cuomo and his Wall Street-backed agenda on September 13,” Nixon said.

Cuomo’s campaign declined to comment, but referred HuffPost to Cuomo’s economic policy accomplishments, including the $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and tuition-free public college for select middle- and low-income students. 

DSA’s entry into the nationally polarizing statewide contest between Cuomo and Nixon provides a new test for the organization, which has multiplied several times in size since the 2016 election. The NYC chapter now has over 4,000 dues-paying members.

The endorsement came through a majority vote of the chapter’s citywide leadership committee. It marked the culmination of a weekslong process that grew contentious at times, as DSA members weighed exactly what kind of role they wanted to play in the two-party system.

Critics within DSA warned that it risked sapping the organization’s scarce resources and diluting the democratic socialist brand. Dozens of NYC DSA members noted in a letter arguing against the endorsement that Nixon had only adopted the label moments before meeting with the chapter to seek its blessing and subsequently made statements qualifying her embrace of the ideology.

“We will not gain members or normalize socialism with a candidate who is not committed to democratic socialism,” they wrote.

But it was the proponents of the endorsement who won out Sunday. They argued that it represented an important opportunity to expand the group’s influence and push left-wing ideals and policies further into the mainstream. Nixon’s platform, which includes single-payer health care and universal rent stabilization, proved crucial in that regard.

“This is the right choice for us at this time, because we’re at a really important moment in which people are taking democratic socialism seriously, including those who are not necessarily in agreement with democratic socialism,” said Susan Kang, a political science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who serves on NYC DSA’s leadership team.

A robust challenge from Nixon and Williams would have the added benefit of “putting a damper” on Cuomo’s presidential ambitions, Kang said.

“We’re the third-biggest economy in the United States,” Kang said. “We can be the policy innovator on something like single payer and really set the momentum for 2020.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Read Full Story