Democrats who represent districts in New York City are “fearful” of primary challenges to their left, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday said.
Cuomo faced his own challenge from the left last year against Cynthia Nixon, defeating her in a gubernatorial primary and heavily outspending her.
But while progressive advocates have not been able to, as of yet, scale their campaigns statewide, they were successful in unseating incumbent Democrats in the state Senate. And, next year, could turn their focus on the state Assembly.
On Tuesday, another test is expected for the establishment as Tiffany Cabán, a public defender, vies for the Queens district attorney nomination. Cabán has the backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Cuomo is backing Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Handicapping that race, Cuomo said much of it depends on the level of turnout, which was low last year when Ocasio-Cortez defeated incumbent Joe Crowley.
“I think many of the New York City Democrats are afraid of the ultra-left or a product of the ultra-left in the last primary,” Cuomo said in the interview on WAMC. “See, when you have a very low turnout primary, Joe Crowley, it was only, I want to say she won with like 15,000 votes or something. I won that district against Cynthia Nixon by 37 points. How does Crowley lose and I win by 37 points? It’s the turnout.”
Cuomo added there is “a dual tension” for Democrats outside of New York City: Facing Republicans in competitive general elections as well as opponents on the left. That, in part, explains why issues like the legalization of marijuana stalled in the Legislature.
“They’re afraid of getting hit from the left and they’re afraid of getting hit from the right,” Cuomo said. “So, they are in a precarious political position. New York City – you’re never going to lose a general election in New York City. Or if you do, you really deserved to. So, they’re only afraid about an attack from the left, and that’s what you see play out during the legislative session.”