Actress Cynthia Nixon was endorsed for governor by the Working Families Party on Saturday – an expected embarrassment that rival Gov. Cuomo tried to sidestep by insisting he didn’t want the progressive party’s support anyway.
“We have had it with corruption and dysfunction in Albany,” Nixon said after a vote at the progressive party’s state committee meeting in Albany.
The WFP’s small pro-Cuomo faction tried and failed to both delay the nod for a month and keep the party’s ballot line blank, but eventually the committee overwhelmingly voted 91.5 percent to back the “Sex and the City” star and activist.
“For eight years he has broken promises,” WFP director Bill Lipton said of Cuomo, who had the party’s support in his last two elections. WFP also voted to back Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) for lieutenant governor over current LG Kathy Hochul.
The endorsement means Nixon may keep running on the WFP line until the November general election even if she loses the Democratic primary – potentially helping the Republican candidate by siphoning votes from Cuomo.
Nixon won’t yet commit to remaining on the WFP line for the general election. The formal nomination to put her on the line won’t come until next month.
She was also backed Saturday by the New York Progressive Action Network, a statewide liberal coalition of 32 chapters and affiliates that includes many who backed Bernie Sanders.
Cuomo’s campaign didn’t immediately comment. His camp announced late Friday he wouldn’t seek WFP’s endorsement following reports that the party would likely back Nixon.
His decision also came after two major unions allied with Cuomo pulled out of the WFP, leaving the left-wing party with virtually no big labor presence. Cuomo’s camp used the union retreat as an excuse for not seeking the third-party line.
But Lipton accused the guv of threatening retaliation against unions affiliated with Nixon endorsers.
“In a meeting earlier this week, the Governor was threatening people,” Lipton said in a statement Friday. “Several times, he said ‘if unions or anyone give money to any of these groups, they can lose my number.’”
Nixon said this shows “that he cares so much more about his own political fortunes than he does about New Yorkers, and particularly about the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”
Unions have been major contributors to grassroots groups like Citizen Action, Make the Road Action and New York Communities for Change, which all endorsed Nixon last week.
“Cuomo has launched a vicious and indefensible attack, aiming to cripple community organizations like ours for backing his opponent Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary,” New York Communities for Change head Jonathan Westin said in a statement Saturday. “Let me be very clear: this is not only a full-blown attack on democracy, it’s an attack on the 20,000 members that we represent.”
The two Cuomo-friendly unions — SEIU Local 32 BJ and Communications Workers of American Local 1 — pulled out of the WFP Friday because they said the party’s leadership strayed from its original mission.
They joined other major labor groups that fled the party years earlier, including the UFT, whose president said the union left because “it became evident that their focus was on personal, political agendas and a few egos.”
Labor leaders may now create their own ballot line for Cuomo.