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April 4, 2018
by Adam Roberts
Andrew Cuomo photograph by Pat Arnow. Cynthia Nixon photograph courtesy of Yahoo News.

On March 19, actress Cynthia Nixon announced she will be challenging Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Cuomo, who has served as Governor of New York since 2011, starts off with an enormous war chest, and all polls show him beginning far ahead. So why then is this race receiving so much news coverage? This year, Republicans have struggled to recruit a viable gubernatorial candidate, making the most closely followed race the Democratic primary.

The answer also lies with Cuomo’s strained relationship with more left-leaning members of the Democratic Party. He has long sought to govern as a centrist, with some going so far as to accuse him of enabling Republican control of the State Senate, something he denies. Dissatisfaction first became evident when the little-known Zephyr Teachout received over 33% of the vote in 2014. Running against Cuomo from the left, Teachout performed particularly well in the Hudson Valley, winning nearly all counties there. Yet Cuomo trounced her in New York City, bringing him to victory. You can see a map of the 2014 election results here.

Unlike Teachout, Nixon has the potential to raise money. She also begins the race with a notable public profile from her acting career. Sensing that her path to victory lies through New York City, she has made its number one issue the focus of her campaign: the MTA. The perilous state of the subway has been a thorny issue for Cuomo, who has received criticism for his handling of it. As The New York Times mentions, Nixon has an entire page on her website devoted to “Cuomo’s MTA.” By tying Cuomo to subway problems, which plague the commutes of so many New Yorkers, she hopes to lessen his popularity in the City.

Likewise, Cuomo is expected to play up on his success with infrastructure issues. The completion of major infrastructure projects under his administration, such as the Second Avenue Subway and Tappan Zee Bridge, are expected to be centerpieces of his campaign.

The Democratic and Republican primaries for all statewide positions, including governor, will be on Thursday, September 13. Meanwhile, the general election will be on Tuesday, November 6.

For architects, it is particularly exciting to see that issues of the built environment, such as the state of New York’s infrastructure, are front and center in a gubernatorial race. Greater public awareness of the importance of good infrastructure is essential to AIANY’s mission. AIANY recently released a statement in support of federal funding for Gateway and other infrastructure projects.

Pulse Points:

  • AIANYS Architects in Albany Advocacy Day is coming up on May 1, 2018 in Albany. Architects from around NYS will be descending on the State Capitol to advocate for issues affecting our profession. If you are interested in participating in this year’s event or would like more information, please contact AIANY Government Affairs Coordinator, Adam Roberts, at 212-358-6116 or aroberts@aiany.org.
  • This past Tuesday, March 27, AIANY testified in favor of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) proposed rules changes, which would allow staff to make more decisions. This would accelerate the process of getting approvals from LPC, allowing LPC’s commissioners to spend more time looking over buildings worthy of being landmarked.

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