‘Cuomo ticket’ beats Nixon, progressive challengers; Epstein, Li and Marte win

Running mates Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul, marching at the recent West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, won their Democratic primary elections on Thursday versus strong progressive challenges. Villager photo by Tequila Minsky

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Voters in Thursday’s Democratic primary for governor who backed Andrew Cuomo said they valued his experience and “strength,” while challenger Cynthia Nixon lacked experience.

Nixon voters, meanwhile, touted her progressive positions on the issues, and said she represented a much-needed “change” from politics as usual.

The race generated lots of excitement and enthusiasm — and high hopes for progressives for some real radical changes.

But, in the end, it wasn’t that close.

Cuomo defeated Nixon by about 66 percent to 34 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the primary between incumbent Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor was much tighter. But Hochul wound up pulling it out with 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent for the Brooklyn city councilmember.

Public Advocate Letitia James, who supports saving the Elizabeth St. Garden, won the Democratic primary for state attorney general.

In another hotly contested primary, Letitia James — who was part of “the Cuomo ticket,” endorsed by the governor — won the four-way race for state attorney general, with 41 percent of the vote. Zephyr Teachout finished in second place with 31 percent, Congressmember Sean Patrick Maloney garnered 25 percent, and Leecia Eve was in last place with 3 percent.

In the primary for the East Side’s 74th Assembly District, incumbent Harvey Epstein easily won with 62 percent of the vote versus two challengers, Akshay Vaishampayan (19 percent) and Juan Pagan (18 percent).

Wendy Li is the apparent winner in a close Civil Court judge race versus Robert Rosenthal.

In a hotly contested race for Civil Court judge in District 2, Wendy Li appeared to have eked out a win with 52 percent of the vote to Robert Rosenthal’s 48 percent. Rosenthal had the lion’s share of political endorsements.

On the Lower East Side, Christopher Marte won the primary for Democratic State Committee in the 65th Assembly District, taking 65 percent of the vote versus a surprising challenge by Joseph Garba, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s secretary for intergovernmental affairs. Despite Marte’s strong record of community activism, Garba — thanks to his connection to the powerful Heastie — had the support of many local politicians, including state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Exit and entry polling of Downtown voters earlier in the day by The Villager showed a wide range of voter opinion — and, in most cases, a lot of passion about the big races. Two poll sites were surveyed, the first in Stuyvesant Town, at E. 16th St. and First Ave., and the second at P.S. 41, the Greenwich Village School, at W. 11th St. and Sixth Ave.

“I voted — of course, for Cuomo,” said Nadav Silberstein, 72, an accountant and Stuy Town resident. “Of course for Cuomo — he’s strong. And Cynthia, she’s not strong — she doesn’t have experience.”

A flier sent to ultra-Orthodox Jewish voters right before the election by the State Democratic Party tried to tar Nixon as anti-Semitic — even though she is raising her two oldest children Jewish.

“I don’t care about that,” Silberstein shrugged, adding, “I’m sure she’s not.”

Again, he said, the main point for him is, “She doesn’t have experience. We need somebody strong against the idiot Trump — to bring him down!”

Heading to the poll, Katwo Puertollano, 35, a Filipino immigrant, said it was her first time voting.

“I think I’m going to vote for Cynthia Nixon,” she said. “I know Cuomo’s going to win — but I just want to threaten him.”

She planned to vote Williams for lieutenant governor and Teachout for attorney general.

“I went with The New York Times endorsement on that one,” she admitted of those two picks.

One Stuy Town Nixon supporter, a retiree who worked in financial services and declined to give her name, said Cuomo was “not a Democrat” in her view. She backed James for A.G. — but noted she was impressed by Maloney’s TV commercials.

“I wasn’t really familiar with him before his ads started,” she said. “He’s got a good story.”

Another Stuy Town voter, Eugenie Chen, 58, who works in product development in the Garment District, said Cuomo has the experience to lead the state.

“I think he’s more of a politician than Nixon,” she said, meaning it in a good way. “She needs to have some experience to run for office.”

While backing the establishment politician for governor, Chen nevertheless blackened the oval for Teachout for A.G., citing her “anticorruption” background.

“I think we need to clean up Albany,” she stated.

A retired Bellevue Hospital nurse, 65, who didn’t want to give her name also supported Cuomo.

“He’s a New Yorker. He’s tough,” she said. “At the hospital, I saw older people let go and a lot of young people without experience brought in over the years and put in charge. Let me tell you, it doesn’t work.”

She, too, first learned about Maloney through his TV ads.

“I was interested in this guy who has a lot of commercials,” she said.

A palm card for Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams. They gave the establishment incumbents a good run. Photo by The Villager

Jax Richter, 36 — her head with close-cropped dark hair bent over her phone — approached the poll site still engaged in an intense texting debate with a friend about the governor’s race.

“Nixon, of course,” she said, when asked by The Villager how she was going to vote. “I’ve been on Facebook for hours — just having big arguments with everyone about ‘she has no experience.’ Somebody compared her to Trump and I just blew up at them.

“It’s not so much that I dislike Cuomo, but I just like her more,” she said. “[More funding for the] M.T.A. and [abolishing] ICE and more money for the school system and healthcare for all New Yorkers — just a whole array of topics that I’m more aligned with her on.”

A Chelsea native and real estate broker who plans to switch to coding — “I had an epiphany,” she said — Richter is gay. But she said Nixon’s sexual orientation — or her gender, for that matter — were not factors in her decision at all.

“Hillary — it was big that she’s a woman,” she acknowledged, referring to Hillary Clinton’s run for president two years ago. “When it came to Cynthia, her gender and her orientation were very much in the back seat.”

Instead, what mattered for Richter, were Nixon’s progressive positions on the issues.

“It’s all about that for me,” she said.

Earlier in the day, she also had been texting back-and-forth with another woman who argued that gays should re-elect Cuomo because he passed same-sex marriage in New York. But Richter disagreed.

“I’m not taking that away from him,” she said of Cuomo. “I’m more than just a gay person — let’s move forward. Credit and gratitude, absolutely, to Cuomo. But that doesn’t mean I owe it to him for the next four years. There are so many things I care about as a human being — not just a gay robot. It is a perk that [Nixon] happens to be a woman and she happens to be gay. … And she’s not even gay — she’s bisexual!”

Even though Nixon would go down to defeat later that night, Richter said there could be more in store for her politically in the future.

“I have heard a lot of buzz [about] Cynthia for mayor,” she said.

Across town at P.S. 41, Zach, 29, a software engineer, said he voted for Cuomo “because he has a strong record of support for college education for low-income students.” He also backed Teachout for attorney general. Admitting to not knowing anything about Hochul, he said he voted for Williams “because he was a person of color.”

A middle-aged man who walked out of the poll briskly and seemed in a rush said succinctly: “I voted for the Cuomo ticket. I think they’re doing a good job — economy, law and order, social justice — I think New York’s doing good.”

A W. 12th St. resident, 49, who owns a textile design company and asked to remain anonymous said, “To be honest, I voted for whoever Bernie supported: Zephyr Teachout, Cynthia Nixon, Jumaane.”

Bernie Sanders technically never endorsed Nixon — some think because it wasn’t worth it for him to cross the heavily favored Cuomo. But as the textile man noted, Nixon was allied with the other Bernie-backed candidates.

“I voted for Cuomo,” said another Villager, Marla, 70. “I give her a lot of credit for running,” she said of Nixon, “but I feel like we need someone who knows what they’re doing. She just needs to gain experience and just a little more chops. I’m not ready for her change yet.”

Marla didn’t want another political neophyte running things.

“We’ve got enough of that in the White House,” she said. “At least let’s have something solid here. They can’t be winging it. It’s a big job. She should have started in a smaller [political] office.”

“Nixon — not really enthusiastically,” reported Scotty Elyano, 48, when asked who he voted for, “because I think eight years as governor is enough.” But he added, “I’m concerned about her qualifications as a leader.”

A Christopher St. resident and real estate broker, he also backed Williams for lieutenant governor.

“Jumaane, with reservations, because I don’t remember Kathy Ho…ch…ool — how do you say her name? — doing anything. It would be nice to have minorities up there in Albany.”

Meanwhile, Elyano said he has known James and “seen her for years, and she’s been on the right side on issues,” so voted for her.

Walking arm in arm as they left the school, an interracial husband-and-wife couple, both 40, went for the same slate of candidates: Nixon, Teachout and Williams.

“I think we need more women and less corruption,” stated Laura Guderian, a physician. “We need change.”

Tony Munyoro, who works in finance and immigrated here from Zimbabwe 10 years ago, agreed, “We just need change — more women, more minority people.”

He said they had talked together beforehand about who to vote for. He was happy with their choices, noting, “It just made sense.”

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