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Politics

Cuomo fends off Nixon in Democratic gubernatorial primary

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is likely looking at a third term in office, after he defeated his primary challenger, progressive actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, by more than 30 percentage points in Thursday’s Democratic primary.

The Associated Press called the race for Cuomo around 9:30 p.m., with nearly half of precincts statewide reporting. According to the New York Times' numbers, by the end of the night, Cuomo had 65.6 percent of the vote to Nixon's 34.4.

In Nassau County, 75,984 Democratic ballots were cast. Cuomo took the county, with 77.6 percent of the vote to Nixon’s 22.2.

Republican candidate, Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro did not face a primary challenge.

Nixon's campaign was bracing for the projected loss before polls closed at 9 p.m., pointing out that Cuomo's supporters spent “astronomically more” than in 2014, when Cuomo faced a primary from Zephyr Teachout — who came in second this year in a four-way primary for attorney general (see sidebar).

A late-campaign mailer from the state Democratic Party essentially accused Nixon of being soft on anti-Semitism. Cuomo initially denied knowledge of the smear attack, which was widely derided, but reporting by the New York Post revealed that campaign insiders close to Cuomo were pushing attacks along the same line behind the scenes.

A Nixon campaign spokesperson said Thursday night that the mailer likely had an effect on the results.

In her concession speech, Nixon said that despite the loss, she was not discouraged, but inspired.

“We have fundamentally changed the political landscape in this state,” she said. “And we have changed what is expected of a Democratic candidate running in New York, and what we can demand from our elected leaders.”

Cuomo did not give a victory speech on Thursday night.

In the 18th Assembly District, political newcomer Taylor Raynor, of Hempstead, unseated 30-year veteran and Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper, winning by 6 percentage points.

Hooper has faced criticism for years over her use of taxpayer money for expenses, time spent in Albany rather than her district and inaccessibility to constituents. This summer, following the release of a video in which Hooper attacked Raynor using racially charged language, and referred to the county Democratic Party as a “plantation,” Nassau Democrats chose to back Raynor’s campaign.