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Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon is challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by running on a progressive platform. (Photo: NBC New York/screenshot)

'Mad as Hell' Cynthia Nixon Calls Out Gov. Cuomo as Fake Progressive and Bully in Fiery Speech

The actress is running as a progressive challenger to the state's Democratic governor

Jessica Corbett

A week after actress and political activist Cynthia Nixon launched her campaign as a progressive challenger to New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the NYC native headed to the state capitol to talk corruption, inequality, and education.

"In New York City he puts on an entire Broadway show to parade around as a progressive Democrat leading the resistance, but in Albany he is deftly handing over power to the party of Donald Trump."
—challenger Cynthia Nixon on Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Speaking on Monday about Cuomo's 2010 campaign promise promise (pdf) to "Clean Up Albany," Nixon said, "As most New Yorkers would tell you, he's cleaned up Albany about as well as Donald Trump has drained the swamp."

She not only attacked the governor's lack of action on this front, but also denounced campaign donations and how powerful special interests influence the state's politics, which she called "legalized bribery and corruption."

"I have come to Albany mad as hell about Republicans, and I have come to Albany mad as hell about Democrats," she said. "We just have to get big money out of politics," she told reporters after the speech. "It's completely subverting our democratic process."

Nixon warned that Cuomo would soon do what he often does: "promise big, get some headlines, and ultimately hand over all the power to his buddies in the Republican Senate."

While slamming the state's budget progress and Cuomo's priorities, Nixon, a long-time public education advocate, noted that "we have gross inequities across the system," tying income inequality to flaws in the state's public education system.

"The Cuomo budget does not value the lives of the majority of New York's children," Nixon asserted. "The Cuomo budget puts New York's children at the back of the bus, while giving the best seats to millionaires and corporate freeloaders."

Nixon, famous for playing Miranda Hobbes in "Sex and the City," has been criticized because she is running for public office despite a career as an actress rather than a politician, but she accused Cuomo of being the real actor, masquerading as a progressive while scheming with Republican state lawmakers—a common critique of the governor.

"In New York City he puts on an entire Broadway show to parade around as a progressive Democrat leading the resistance," she said, "but in Albany he is deftly handing over power to the party of Donald Trump."

Watch (Nixon's remarks begin at 15:00):

Nixon also bashed Cuomo as a bully and compared him to the president, declaring: "We've all seen it: Andrew the bully. He bullies other elected officials. He bullies anyone who criticizes him. He even bullies the media with his reference to your 'small questions.' But worst of all, his budgets bully our children and our families by short-changing them, by boxing them in, by denying them the opportunities they are owed. It reminds me of the behavior we see from Donald Trump every day."

"The old boys' club in Albany might have a lot of money, they might have a lot of arrogance, but in the end we must remember that they only have as much power as we, the people, give them," Nixon said. "It's time for a change."

Her speech, which also touched on sexual harassment as well as reproductive and LGBTQ rights, built on the critique of Cuomo—and, more broadly, the Democratic Party—that she outlined in an interview with Glamour last week:

A real Democrat doesn't slash taxes on the wealthy. A real Democrat doesn't slash corporate taxes. A real Democrat doesn't give away billions of dollars in economic development money to his cronies and his donors with no strings attached. A real Democrat doesn't lose us $25 billion in revenue in eight years—money our state desperately needs to put into our schools, our transit system, and our public housing. The fact of the matter is, our working class doesn't look like the working class from 1955. Our working class is largely women and people of color—it's people like social workers and daycare workers, people who run senior centers and after-school youth programs and people who work in schools. We need to fund those things. We need to fund those things because we need those services. We also need to protect the people who are doing those jobs, and make sure there's $15 minimum wage—not just in the city, but in every part of the state.

Asked "Why Cynthia Nixon?" she said: "Because we so badly need someone to run against Andrew Cuomo. To show who he is. And to show everything that's been lacking here in the last eight years and everything New York could be in opposition to Donald Trump.... Bullies have to be confronted."


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