New York: Vote Today, Vote Nixon!

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Today New Yorkers go to the polls. If you are in New York, vote today between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. (but note that for some update locations polling begins later in the day). If you are in line at 9 p.m., you cannot be turned away. Find your polling location here.

The primary will decide the candidates for the general election to be held in November. This year, the Democratic primary is heavily favored as the election that will determine the outcome of the races for governor, lieutenant governor, state senate, state assembly, and attorney general—largely because the Democratic nominees are expected to win in November.  Republicans, Reform Party, and other minor parties have primary races, too—although under New York state law, uncontested primaries do not have elections. Marcus Molinaro, a Republican, will face off against the winner of the Democratic primary for governor. Below, we break down the different elections and look at the candidates running for office.

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Governor:

Two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo faces off against Cynthia Nixon, a progressive candidate running on a progress platform of fixing the New York City subway and single-payer healthcare.

Cuomo, the son of a popular former governor, Mario Cuomo, has been in power for eight years. He’s widely regarded as having underfunded the subway system, including directing some $5 million to help upstate ski resorts. He claims progressive victories, but many of these are merely gimmicks. Take for instance, Cuomo’s “free” college plan that rejects most applicants, or the increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour that left behind upstate workers. Cuomo also prematurely opened the new Tappan Zee Bridge, coincidentally named after his father, last weekend just before the primary election and has since been accused of pressuring contractors to hasten the opening of the new bridge. Cuomo aides also approved an eleventh hour mailer, paid for by the state Democratic party, attacking Nixon as anti-semitic, even though Nixon has Jewish children and is a member of a synagogue. None of this is surprising from a man who created an ethics commission to launch investigations into his political enemies, and then disbanded it when it started investigating him. More recently, a former Cuomo aide was convicted of three corruption charges.

Even before she launched her campaign to unseat Cuomo, Cynthia Nixon was painted as a novice unprepared for the office. Nixon built a career as an actress, but she has been an activist on education and LGBTQ issues for more than a decade. More importantly, she’s leading with a progressive message: tax rich people to pay for services. She’s been running on a platform of fixing New York City’s subway. Nixon was late to her first campaign because of a subway delay in what might be seen as a stunt if subway delays hadn’t become so common they are now simply accepted as a cost of doing business. The subway system is the lifeblood of the city and in recent years, owing largely to Cuomo’s neglect, the system has been failing New Yorkers

While many voters might support Nixon on this issue alone, she’s also leading a wider progressive agenda: Nixon is in favor of single-payer healthcare, a key issue for many New Yorkers, especially as Republicans dismantle Obamacare on the national stage. She supports legalizing marijuana, and has recognized that people of color are disproportionately harmed by current statues. She’s also pushing a not quite fully realized rent regulation for all, but this is a better step than Cuomo, who punted when he failed to kill “preferential rent,” a loophole allowing landlords to circumvent rent stabilization laws.

Most importantly, a Nixon victory will kill Cuomo’s chances of running for president in 2020. Nixon is the governor New York needs.

Lieutenant Governor:

The lieutenant governor plays a minor role in New York State politics, but should Andrew Cuomo run president in 2020, as he is largely expected to do, the lieutenant governor would succeed him. Cuomo’s pick, former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, is an upstate politician who has criss-crossed New York as Cuomo’s surrogate. Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman, is on Team Nixon, but has had some odd things to say about express buses. The best choice for lieutenant governor is voting for a governor who doesn’t intend to abandon the state at the first chance to run for president.

Attorney General

Also at stake today is the position of attorney general. Eric Schneiderman resigned in May amid assault claims by four women. New York hasn’t had much luck with our attorney general—you might recall Eliot Spitzer resigned the position because of a prostitution scandal, while Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton. Two women lead this year’s contenders. Public advocate Tish James has the endorsement of Andrew Cuomo, and she’ll likely to do a fine job. She has backed legalizing marijuana, but on the other hand, she’s supported by Cuomo. The progressive candidate is Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo for the governorship in 2014 and has earned the endorsement of the Times. She’s also an expert in corruption, and between Trump and Cuomo, that expertise will be critical in the years ahead. Sean Maloney, a congressman from New York’s 18th district, the Hudson Valley, is also running. His congressional district might flip to the Republicans if he steps aside to run for attorney general.

State Senate

Control of the New York Senate is also up for grabs. The Democratic party has maintained a slim majority, but a caucus known as the Independent Democratic Conference has been voting with Republicans. Most pundits agree Cuomo used the IDC to direct the agenda in Albany, and these suspicions seemed confirmed when Cuomo announced the IDC would disband. Voters in a few select districts can unseat these “democrats” who voted with Republican state senators.

North Brooklyn voters also have the opportunity to unseat Senator Dilan, who has ties to the real estate lobby. His challenger, Julia Salazar, has been compared to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the unexpected progressive winner in the federal primary against centrist Congressman Joseph Crowley. Salazar has some unanswered questions about her past, but identifies as a socialist supporting leftist policies that other “insurgent” Democrats have won on.

Vote Nixon. Vote Teachout. Vote Salazar. Vote for better healthcare. Vote for better access to higher education. Vote for a livable minimum wage. Vote to protect reproductive rights. Vote for candidates who will fight to make New York State the place you want to live. Vote today. Find your polling location here.


Ian MacAllen is the Rumpus Deputy Editor and founder of English Kills Review an online literary magazine focused on books, authors, and New York City. His writing has appeared in Little Fiction, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →