A long and often heated primary campaign that pitted incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo against progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon came to an end on Thursday night, with Cuomo ultimately winning the Democratic nomination for November’s gubernatorial race. The Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m., and ultimately, close to one million voters statewide voted for Cuomo.
Still, Nixon garnered 34 percent of the vote, with more than 500,000 people casting their ballots for the actor and activist. Voter turnout for the primary was reportedly double from the 2014 primary.
In her concession speech, Nixon noted that her campaign had “changed the political landscape in this state.”
“We have changed what is expected of a Democratic candidate running in New York and what we can demand from our elected leaders,” she stated. “Progressive rhetoric alone is not enough—people are struggling just to survive here, and they need to see real substantive policies that address racial, gender, and economic inequality.”
Nixon ran on a progressive platform that called for reforms to the state’s criminal justice system (including legalizing marijuana), investments in the broken transit system, and a array of pro-tenant measures under the banner of universal rent control. She took credit for pushing him to the left on some of these issues throughout her campaign.
“This campaign forced the Governor to make concrete commitments that will change the lives of people across this state,” she noted.
“Cuomo, the real estate industry and Wall Street should be afraid—very afraid,” Jonathan Westin, the executive director of New York Communities for Change, said in a statement. “Tenants, low-income communities, and communities of color are energized and will bring a new era of progressive governance to Albany.”
Cuomo has not yet made remarks about the outcome of the election.
In the two other big races—lieutenant governor and attorney general—candidates affiliated with Cuomo also won: Incumbent lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul narrowly defeated City Council member Jumaane Williams, while public advocate Letitia James came out on top of a crowded field of candidates for attorney general.
Progressive challengers did find success in downballot races, where a group of upstarts took on breakaway Democrats in the state Senate—and won. Of the eight Democratic candidates who ran against former members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), six won—including Alessandra Biaggi, who ousted Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein, the architect of the IDC, from his seat.
But Simcha Felder, the state Senator who represents New York’s 17th district—and, crucially, caucuses with Republicans, effectively giving them control of the Senate—held on to his seat amid a challenge from Brooklyn lawyer Blake Morris. Felder has been the holdout vote in crucial battles in the state legislature, most recently the fight over reinstating the city’s school zone speed camera program.
But there is a new progressive wave in the senate (assuming these candidates all win in the general election) and it remains to be seen how that will impact city and state politics—particularly on issues like housing, considering New York’s rent laws are up for renewal in 2019—from here on out.