Rumors that Cynthia Nixon would mount a challenge to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in New York’s Democratic primary began to surface in early March; by the 20th she had announced her candidacy, and by mid-April she had secured the endorsement of the progressive Working Families Party, which backed the governor, after some sturm and drang, in his two previous elections. Ever since her emergence, the governor has seemed — how to say? — terrified out of his bomber jacket, and has been moving to establish New York as the liberal paradise of a certain kind of voter’s imagination: the kind of voter who would vote for Cynthia Nixon.
Her supporters have described the governor’s increasing shift leftward — delineated below — as “the Cynthia effect,’’ an interpretation of recent events his allies adamantly deny. “The governor’s long record of progressive accomplishment is irrefutable,’’ as Abbey Fashouer, a spokeswoman for the campaign put it (forgetting perhaps that a few years ago, Mr. Cuomo bragged that, fiscally speaking at least, his administration had managed the state “in a way that any Republican would be proud.”
Before Cynthia: Pot Is Terrible. After Cynthia: We’re Just Going to Have to Live With It
Early last year, Mr. Cuomo, who had supported medical marijuana use, said he remained opposed to pot as a means of a good time, calling it a “gateway drug.” In January, he proposed that a commission be established to look at legalizing it. In April, immediately after Ms. Nixon made a case for legalization as a means of reducing racial inequity in the criminal justice system, Mr. Cuomo came forward saying that the situation with marijuana had changed dramatically because so many states near New York had legalized it or were about to and that essentially it was “here anyway.”
Before: Plastic Bags, Schmastic Bags. Now: We Need to Worry About Plastic Bags.
In February 2017, the governor signed a bill killing a law that would have levied a fee of five cents a piece on plastic bags in New York City. Then, late last month, he said he would like to ban all plastic bags in the state because of “the devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources.”
The New York City Housing Authority Is in Crisis. Have You Heard?
In the latter half of March, the governor made a series of trips to complexes run by the New York City Housing Authority, where he has hardly been a regular presence in the past, declaring the conditions disgraceful and proclaiming that he wanted to “expose” the problems, as if no one involved in a system that needs close to $25 billion in capital repairs had noticed. By early April, he had declared a state of emergency, ordered an independent monitor to oversee and speed up repairs, and pledged $550 million, some portion of the money having been previously promised but not released. Ms. Nixon held her first campaign event in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which has the highest concentration of public housing in the country.
Let’s Hold Hands and Make Nice
For seven years, an alliance in the State Senate between Republicans and a breakaway group of Democrats, known as the Independent Democratic Conference, or the I.D.C. had impeded passage of certain forms of progressive legislation. Ms. Nixon found this very problematic. In early April, at the insistence of the governor, the partnership dissolved, with Mr. Cuomo announcing the new arrangement — Democrats with Democrats — at a Manhattan news conference.Continue reading the main story
Let’s Restore Voting Rights to the Disenfranchised
On April 18, the governor announced that he intended to restore voting rights to felons on parole, potentially creating 35,000 new voters in the state. Previous efforts to enact this legislation had gone nowhere but now the governor said he was “unwilling to take no for an answer.” He would issue an executive order.
Let’s Remind Everyone How Much We Love Puerto Rico
It is true that the governor has long loved Puerto Rico. He was on the first flight down after Hurricane Maria. On April 29, he announced the New York Stands With Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative which will deploy hundreds of students from the state’s public university system to do volunteer work on the island beginning in June. They will clean, restore and construct homes and receive academic credit for doing so.
Oh, and Teacher Evaluations Should Be Friendlier
For a long time, one of the signature elements of Mr. Cuomo’s education-reform agenda had been tying teacher evaluations to the test scores students received on state exams. But that metric lost its efficiency as the opt-out movement grew in 2016, with parents keeping their children from taking the tests altogether. The governor knew then things had to move in a different direction. On April 26, the governor announced that he was on board with legislation that would entirely disentangle test scores from teacher assessment. The announcement came immediately after Ms. Nixon had called for a repeal of the evaluation system. The Cuomo camp argued that the legislation had been in the works for a long time.Continue reading the main story