BY VERENA DOBNIK
NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s progressive Working Families Party formally endorsed “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon on Saturday as its gubernatorial candidate — challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The small, progressive party held its annual convention at Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church, where the 52-year-old Emmy award-winning activist accepted the nomination.
“After eight years of Andrew Cuomo and with Donald Trump in the White House, I cannot imagine not running,” Nixon said.
Also formally endorsed was New York City Council member Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor.
In an unusual move, the party’s state committee voted to back two hopefuls for attorney general: New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, whom Cuomo supports, and law professor Zephyr Teachout.
“There are two incredible progressive women in the race and New Yorkers would be lucky to have either as attorney general,” said Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, which he said gave James and Teachout their start running for office.
Teachout, a professor at Fordham University, ran against Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014, winning 34 percent of the vote to his 62 percent.
“Gov. Cuomo would like nothing more than to have progressives fighting each other,” Lipton told The Associated Press. “But we’re committed to staying united.”
Nixon, who has never run for office, will face Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Sept. 13.
If she loses, her name could still appear on the Working Families Party ballot line in the November general election. She has not said whether she would opt for that.
Polls show the two-time incumbent governor with a commanding lead over the novice candidate. A Quinnipiac University poll released May 2 found 50 percent of registered Democratic voters favor Cuomo compared to 28 percent for Nixon. The poll of 1,076 New York state voters conducted April 26 to May 1 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
The party first announced in April that it would embrace Cuomo’s challenger over the governor.
Cuomo said he would not seek the backing of the party that had endorsed him in the past. Instead, the governor has gained the support of two major unions that pulled out of the Working Families Party over its support for Nixon.
The party was first organized in 1998 by a coalition of labor unions, plus a variety of community and advocacy groups aiming to represent middle- and working-class New Yorkers.
Abbey Fashouer, a spokeswoman for Cuomo’s re-election campaign, has said the governor’s progressive record is “unmatched,” including helping to raise New York’s minimum wage, and pushing for gun-safety legislation and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
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