Kathy Hochul Wins Lt. Gov., Letitia James Takes AG Nom, Upsets Seen In State Senate


Gubernatorial Primary Race

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defeated Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon to win his party’s nomination for a third term.

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Cuomo had far greater financial resources going into the matchup, and polls suggested he held a commanding lead before Thursday’s primary.

The incumbent always led in the polls and outspent his rival more than 8 to 1, seldom mentioned Nixon by name during an often-nasty campaign, and instead touting his experience, achievements in two terms as governor and his work to push back against President Donald Trump.

“It’s a really great victory for the governor and I think it shows clearly that New Yorkers knew that in the governor’s mansion they had a progressive who delivers who was a real defense and offense against President Trump,” said Christine Quinn. “They weren’t willing to give that up.”

“You cannot be a progressive if you cannot deliver progress. And a New York progressive is not just a dreamer, but we are doers,” Cuomo said at a campaign rally the night before the vote. “We make things happen.”

Nixon, a longtime education activist and actress best known for her Emmy-winning role as lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO’s “Sex and the City,” was counting on a boost from liberals looking to oust establishment politicians. She called herself a democratic socialist and pointed to recent congressional primary victories by New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley as evidence that underdog challengers can defy the odds.

But Cuomo secured key endorsements from Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden — as well as musician Nicki Minaj — and influential groups such as the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood. And despite Nixon’s efforts, polls showed several key Democratic voting blocs remained loyal to the incumbent, including African-Americans, young voters and women.

The 60-year-old governor spent much of the race touting his own liberal accomplishments such as same-sex marriage, gun control and paid family leave. And he increasingly made the race about pushing back against the policies of Trump and other Republicans in Washington. At the same time, he dismissed Nixon as a naive dilettante and mocked her work as an actress.

“If it was all about name recognition,” he said earlier this year, “then I’m hoping Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race.”

Despite the rhetoric, Cuomo took Nixon seriously, spending $8.5 million, largely on ads, in the final weeks of the campaign to answer her repeated attacks that the governor has not invested enough in New York City’s beleaguered subway system and failed to deliver on upstate economic development promises.

There were indications that the 52-year-old Nixon’s aggressive campaign actually pushed the incumbent governor to the left on several issues, including legalizing marijuana and addressing crumbling public housing in New York City.

While he may have won, Cuomo, a former U.S. housing secretary and son of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, did not escape the primary unscathed.

Two of his former top aides were convicted this year on corruption charges related to his signature economic development programs, giving ample ammunition to Nixon – as well as his general election opponents.

Cuomo himself snuffed out speculation that he might run for president in 2020, pledging in his only debate with Nixon that he would serve a full four-year term if re-elected this year.

And then there were Cuomo’s self-inflicted wounds in the waning days of the campaign.

He was mocked for saying America “was never that great” during remarks criticizing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

He invited Clinton to a celebratory opening of the final span of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge over the Hudson — only to keep the bridge closed after engineers warned that pieces from the old, largely disassembled Tappan Zee Bridge could hit the new structure.

Cuomo claimed to have no knowledge of a Democratic Party mailer that questioned Nixon’s support for Jewish people — despite Cuomo’s control of the party and a recent $2.5 million contribution to its campaign operations. Cuomo’s spokeswoman later acknowledged that two former aides volunteering on the campaign were behind the piece.

Nixon, who is raising two of her children in the Jewish faith, demanded an apology that never came.

Nixon now must decide whether she wants to run on the November ballot as a candidate for the third-party Working Families Party, thanks to a New York state law that allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines.

Early in the campaign, Nixon said she would stand aside if she lost the Democratic primary, but it remains to be seen whether the party can remove her name from the ballot.

Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro and independent Stephanie Miner in November’s general election.

Letitia James (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Attorney General

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has won a four-way Democratic primary for attorney general in New York. The race was a competition over who could best use the office to antagonize President Donald Trump.

James would become the first black woman to hold statewide elected office in New York if she prevails in the general election.

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Lt. Governor

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In the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, incumbent Kathy Hochul, a former congresswoman from Buffalo, defeated challenger Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman who had promised if elected to serve as a check on Cuomo.

Had Williams won, it would have made an odd pairing with Cuomo.

Jumaane Williams made clear his disdain for Andrew Cuomo, saying on Thursday the governor “lies, deceives and rules by fear,” reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

State Senate

Democratic socialist Julia Salazar has overcome scrutiny of her personal life and questions about truthfulness to win the Democratic primary for a state Senate seat in Brooklyn.

The 27-year-old first-time candidate defeated state Sen. Martin Dilan on Thursday in New York’s 18th Senate District.

Salazar joins the ranks of hard-left candidates who have ousted mainstream Democrats. Salazar’s grassroots campaign targeted Dilan for failing to do enough to help the poor or stop gentrification in Brooklyn.

But recently, she faced criticism for how she described her life story. Among other things, she said she was an immigrant when she was born in Florida. Reporters also revealed she was once accused of attempted bank fraud by the ex-wife of baseball great Keith Hernandez.

There is no Republican candidate in the general election.

In a district covering parts of Manhattan and the Bronx, former New York City councilman has defeated an incumbent first-term state senator in the Democratic primary for a state Senate seat.

Robert Jackson on Thursday beat state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, who was elected to the 31st Senate District seat in 2016.

Alcantara was one of eight state senators who was part of a Democratic splinter group that helped Republicans keep control of New York’s Senate.

Each of those candidates faced primary challengers who criticized them for their membership in the Independent Democratic Conference.

The IDC broke with Democrats for years to support Republican control of the chamber but reunified earlier this year.

In another blow to the IDC, an attorney who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton has beaten the former leader of a Democratic splinter group that helped Republicans keep control of New York’s state senate

Alessandra Biaggi defeated Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein on Thursday in the Democratic primary for the 34th state Senate district.

Biaggi challenged Klein, saying more progressive leaders were needed in office.

Klein formerly led the senate’s Independent Democratic Conference. The group of eight Democrats broke with their party for years to support Republican control of the chamber.

The split allowed Republican leaders to keep bills on gun control and abortion from coming to a vote.

The breakaway Democrats reunified with the party earlier this year in a deal that saw Klein become the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.

A lawyer and activist who touted himself as a “real” Democrat has defeated an incumbent who had been part of a Democratic splinter group that helped Republicans keep control of New York’s Senate.

Zellnor Myrie defeated state Sen. Jesse Hamilton on Thursday in the Democratic primary for the 20th state Senate district. The district includes a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Crown Heights, Park Slope and Sunset Park.

Hamilton was one of eight state senators who made up the Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC broke with Democrats for years to support Republican control of the chamber but reunified earlier this year.

Myrie and other challengers said voters shouldn’t accept Democrats not supporting their party.

Jessica Ramos, a community organizer and former aide to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH’-zee-oh), has beaten an incumbent Queens state senator in the Democratic primary.

Ramos on Thursday ousted state Sen. Jose Peralta in the 13th state Senate district.

Peralta was among a group of eight members of a former Democratic splinter group facing primary challenges.

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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)