ALBANY — In losing last week’s Democratic gubernatorial primary to Gov. Cuomo, actress Cynthia Nixon failed to capitalize on the gains made four years earlier by lesser-known Fordham law Prof, Zephyr Teachout.
In 2014, Teachout had virtually no money and little media attention, but managed to win 26 counties against Cuomo.
Nixon, despite waves of free media due to her celebrity, won just 13 of the state’s 62 counties last week. Many of the counties she won were in the state capital region.
Cuomo managed to do better in the suburbs and dominate in the city, particularly in black and Hispanic districts where Nixon needed to make strong headway.
Teachout in 2014 won 40.2% of the vote in Suffolk County against Cuomo, compared with 25.6% by Nixon last week.
In Westchester County, Teachout secured 35.7% of the vote while Nixon had 27.4%. And in Nassau County, Teachout received 31.3% compared with Nixon’s 22%.
In Manhattan, Cuomo secured just 57.6% of the vote against Nixon, but he won at least 70% in the other four boroughs, the two Long Island counties and Westchester.
Cuomo also won big in the New York City districts where five members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference, which until April had been aligned with the chamber’s Republicans, lost — despite Nixon repeatedly accusing him of emboldening the arrangement.
And he won big in the Queens district where Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June defeated longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley.
By the raw numbers, Nixon did far better than Teachout as the turnout this year was significantly higher.
In 2014, just 574,350 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial primary. Nixon almost reached that total herself, having received 511,661 votes of the 1.5 million cast.
“We got half a million Democrats saying ‘no’ to Cuomo,” said Nixon consultant Rebecca Katz. “That ain’t nothing.”
But Nixon’s 33.8% of the vote was identical to Teachout’s performance. And in 2014, the overall anti-Cuomo vote was even higher — 37.8% — since fringe Democrat Randy Credico captured an additional 4% in the primary.
Political insiders say the governor’s improvement is due to a host of factors.
Cuomo spent significantly more this time around. From mid-July through 10 days before the primary, Cuomo spent $16 million while blanketing the airwaves with ads. In 2014 against Teachout, he spent just $5.6 million during the same period.
Nixon, who relied almost exclusively on small donations, couldn’t keep pace or mount any kind of statewide TV ad campaign.
But money was not the only factor.
Since Teachout’s surprisingly spirited run in 2014, Cuomo looked to shore up his left flank by building a progressive record he was able to promote in all those ads.
He also made up with the public-sector unions he was warring with during his first term.
And he focused more on attacking President Trump, who is unpopular in his home state, than he did on Nixon.
Meanwhile, Nixon was criticized for virtually ignoring the suburbs and upstate for much of the campaign and for not trying to expand her far left base.
Several Nixon backers conceded she was a flawed candidate, but argued she was the only Dem “willing to take one for the team” by challenging Cuomo.
City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) lost the lieutenant governor Democratic primary, but actually received more votes than Nixon.
Despite about 100,000 fewer people voting in the lieutenant governor primary than the governor’s race, Williams received 640,586 votes to Nixon’s 511,661.
He also bested Letitia James, who received 578,433 votes in her four-way attorney general primary win.
Meanwhile, in defeating Williams by a 48.4% to 42.4% margin, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul won all but four counties.
Williams won big in Brooklyn. He also took Manhattan and upstate Columbia and Tompkins counties.