At 38, I’ve seen a lot of interesting things happen in the political realm from my perch here in Upstate New York. As a young kid growing up in Saratoga Springs, former actor Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States by a landslide, in power for most of the 1980s. Several years later, I got really into what was then known as the WWF—the World Wrestling Federation—which would air on Saturday mornings on our old rabbit-eared TV set. One of the superstar wrestlers, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, whom I saw get thrown around the ring in a skin-tight thong and shout ridiculous things at the camera, ended up being elected Governor of Minnesota. A few years later, I became a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Commando, which features a well-oiled Arnie carrying a giant log in the opening scene for no apparent reason other than to flex his giant muscles, was my favorite. (In it, he offs more bad guys than in probably any other movie ever made.) We know how that ended up: He got elected Governor of California. And then, of course, there’s our current President, Donald Trump, who wasn’t so much an actor as he was America’s most famous rich guy and then, feared fake boss on reality show The Apprentice. He’s now still really rich and the world’s most feared real boss. In short, Americans seem to equate visibility with electability; fame and charisma somehow trump the need for a formal, political education. And as of yesterday, New York Democrats will get the chance to either cast a vote for the status quo or somebody of the star-studded ilk in the next gubernatorial primary. Somewhat ironically, the candidate’s last name is Nixon, too.
On Monday, March 19, Cynthia Nixon, an Emmy Award-winning actress whom every thirty- and forty-something in the world knows as Miranda Hobbes from HBO’s hit series, Sex and the City, announced her candidacy for Governor of New York, looking to unseat Andrew Cuomo, who’s held the position since 2011. She announced her intentions on Twitter (the tweet has been liked 55,000 times and retweeted 15,000 times).
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) March 19, 2018
“New York is my home,” says Nixon in the announcement video, which in less than 24 hours, has been viewed more than two million times. “I’ve never lived anywhere else.” (She grew up in the Big Apple.) She goes on to say that “our leaders are letting us down; we’re now the most unequal state in the entire country, with both incredible wealth and extreme poverty.” If you’re wondering, she mentions Upstate New York just once—but drops a rather ominous piece of data to complement it: “Half the kids in our Upstate cities live below the poverty line.” (Ouch.) The video ends with Nixon riding what I can only assume is one of the Amtrak trains that runs into Albany—that I used to take several times a year myself, when traveling from my home in Brooklyn back to Saratoga (I wonder if Amtrak cleared the train for her shoot, or she got to sit next to one of her loudly snoring potential future constituents?).
If there’s any real takeaway from Nixon’s announcement video, it’s that she’s completely serious about the run; nowhere in it or her new campaign website is there any question that Nixon’ll put up a fight against Cuomo. And with an estimated net worth of $60 million, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Not to mention the fact that she will likely have a number of prominent stars backing her. (Unfortunately not Elton John.) Her second tweet as a gubernatorial candidate? You guessed it: about donating to her campaign.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) March 20, 2018
A graduate of Barnard College, Nixon has long been an advocate for LGBT rights—she’s married to Christine Marinoni, a former adviser at the Department of Education, and the couple has three children. She’s also a breast cancer activist and an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen foundation (Nixon is herself a cancer survivor). Watch the video above, and you’ll see a bit of a clip-reel for her, and you can’t help but note that she has a commanding presence and can make her away around public speaking. After all, actors are unequivocally better at oration than most of us plebes. Is she a formidable debater? Time will tell.
So what are the chances that Nixon could end up in the Governor’s Mansion in Albany—i.e. 45 minutes from Downtown Saratoga? Slim, so far, reports The New York Times. Just a day into her candidacy, the newspaper’s already citing a Siena College poll that puts Cuomo atop Nixon 66 percent to 19 percent, among Democratic voters in the state. But Cuomo’s had quite a bit of bad press lately, with a former aide being found guilty of three counts of corruption. But something tells me that this primary isn’t over just yet. I can just see it now: A sizable rally mushrooms up somewhere in Albany—heck, even possibly at Saratoga Race Course—lightbulbs flashing hither and yon, with Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Mr. Big flanking the possible next Governor of New York.