Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York easily won renomination for a third term Thursday against actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, in a race that offered a snapshot of a Democratic Party in flux as voters balance local desires with resistance to President Donald Trump in a political landscape transformed by a resurgent left wing.
Nixon courted a liberal insurgency that wants immediate action on immigration, housing and health care, while Cuomo ran on a record of accomplishment after tacking left with his policy agenda in response to the challenge.
With more than three-fourths of the precincts reporting, Cuomo was beating Nixon by a 2-to-1 ratio — roughly the same spread as his 2014 primary victory over another liberal challenger.
In remarks to supporters Thursday night, Nixon declared a moral victory, saying she had “fundamentally changed the political landscape” in New York by helping lead a revolt against establishment Democrats.
“We have changed what is expected of a Democratic candidate running in New York and what we can demand from our elected leaders,” she said.
In a clear sign of Democratic enthusiasm, turnout more than doubled from 2014. The biggest surge came in New York City and its suburbs.
Cuomo did not address the public Thursday night. While supporters rallied in New York City, the governor returned to Albany after a combative and bitter end to the campaign.
Its final days were consumed in controversy over a mailer sent by the state Democratic Party accusing Nixon, who is raising Jewish children, of anti-Semitism. The Cuomo campaign acknowledged Wednesday that political operatives linked to the governor wrote and approved the ad, which the governor disavowed.
That controversy added late intrigue to a race that had otherwise hinged on Nixon’s attacks on Cuomo as a “corporate Democrat” out of touch with the needs of working-class residents — particularly those in New York City dependent on a subway system that has deteriorated under Cuomo’s watch.
Cuomo struck back by highlighting his work over two terms to tighten state gun laws, ban natural gas drilling, raise the minimum wage and push move forward with major public-works projects — while also arguing that a lifetime of public service in one of New York’s most prominent political families has made him the best choice to take on Trump, who has shown hostility to New York’s priorities in Washington.
“He worked hard for the votes, and he delivered,” Cuomo spokeswoman Lis Smith said in an interview with the NY1 network Thursday night.
“He is a politician, and he is a leader who actually has the ability to get things done.”
Nixon, too, attempted to run an issues-first campaign, arguing that a liberal state like New York has been run too long by Democrats too willing to work with Republicans and too timid to take on donors. On the trail, she endorsed statewide universal health care, free college tuition, rent regulation and a public transportation plan that would rebuild the commuter rail system.
The race served as an echo of contests throughout this midterm year in which establishment Democrats like Cuomo have moved to the left to try to assuage voters and activists energized by insurgent candidates such as Nixon.