Why Cynthia Nixon’s Debate with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Is Tonight’s Must-See TV
Months after Cynthia Nixon announced her bid to run for governor of New York and challenged incumbent New York governor Andrew Cuomo to a televised debate, the two will finally square off head-to-head. The hotly-anticipated debate airs this evening at 7 pm ET on CBS 2 in New York City, and live streamed via CBS New York. It will be the first and only debate Nixon and Cuomo have before the state’s Democratic voters choose between the two candidates in the September 13 primary .
Because it’s the first and only debate that the two Democrats will have, and also that it’s been years since Cuomo has participated in a head-to-head debate, the debate has been deemed one to watch among democratic voters and political observers. Nixon, who is best known for her role as Miranda on Sex and the City, is campaigning as a fresh, more liberal option for Democratic voters who want to see New York go in a progressive direction.
Nixon was endorsed by the Working Families Party, a liberal party in the New York that has previously endorsed Cuomo, who is a more moderate Democrat. The New York City Democratic Socialists of America also gave Nixon their endorsement. Cuomo, on the other hand, has been collecting endorsements from older, establishment Democrats, including former vice president Joe Biden.
Though the debate has yet to take place, it’s generated some unusual debate of its own.
According to the New York Times, Nixon’s staff asked that the temperature of the debate venue be set to a comfortable 76 degrees, citing recent research that backs up women’s complaints that their workplaces are not adequately heated.”[Workplaces are] notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here,” the email noted, prompting many to ask: “Can temperature be sexist?” (FWIW, the New York Times‘ answer seems to be yes.)
Ever since Nixon announced her candidacy for governor of New York in March, she’s been popular with progressive Democrats who aren’t content with Cuomo’s seven-year record as governor or are suspicious of his corporate backing. Cuomo also comes from a high-profile family: His late father was three-term New York governor Mario Cuomo, who held office from 1983 to 1994, and his brother Chris Cuomo is a CNN television broadcaster.
Nixon, on the other hand, is new to electoral politics. But the 52-year-old lifelong New Yorker has been a progressive activist for public schools for years, including serving as spokesperson for the Alliance for Quality Education, a New York-based coalition that advocates for public schools and for which Nixon’s wife, Christine Marinoni, previously served as New York director. Nixon also used her status as a celebrity to bring attention to the fight for marriage equality, a cause she and Marinoni aggressively lobbied for.
Though Cuomo still has a large lead in the polls, Nixon’s ability to capture the attention of a younger set of progressive voters hasn’t gone unnoticed. And who knows? After the debate tonight, the polls could change.
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(Photos via Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)