Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams endorsed each other Sunday, establishing an alliance that many voters assumed existed between the two candidates opposing the incumbent governor and lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. Speaking at a press conference on the edge of Prospect Park, Nixon and Williams were endorsed by the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America before they endorsed each other. Following the press conference the two candidates spent considerable time greeting attendees and passersby. They briefly walked into Prospect Park but quickly changed course, having already spent their allotted park time greeting people those attendees and passersby, and instead headed out to knock on doors on surrounding blocks.
Like candidates for president and vice president, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in New York run as a pair, or ticket, in the general election. They run separately in the primary, however, with primary voters free to choose candidates for governor and lieutenant governor who are unaligned. The primaries are therefor Cuomo v. Nixon and, separately, Hochul v. Williams, rather than a single primary of Cuomo/Hochul v. Nixon/Williams. They’re the only opponent who Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will face in their respective primaries, and have thereby been effectively matched in perception of much of the public despite the separate primaries.
Nixon and Williams have been slow to endorse each other, however. They separately entered the 2018 race, each with their own political history and without any alliance or long relationship between them.
In April they were endorsed by the Working Families Party but pointedly avoided endorsing one another even as they spoke enthusiastically of each other. Saying that “Jumaane and I know each other a little bit … but we have yet to really sit down in a meaningful way and hash it out” Nixon lauded Williams but made clear that she was not yet prepared to endorse Williams. Williams added that “our messages are very similar” but sought to minimize the import of formally endorsing each other as “more exciting for the media.” When they were formally nominated by the WFP in May, Nixon and Williams appeared separately on stage and similarly did not formally endorse each other. Just a week before Sunday’s cross-endorsements Nixon was flummoxed when asked if she and Williams were “on the same ticket,” stumbling in her response without providing any clarity.
They expressed strong support for each other Sunday, saying that they have had extensive discussions over many weeks and are fully in sync. When I asked what policy issues they’re least in agreement on they expressed unity, saying that they don’t have any significant policy differences.
At the end of the press conference Nixon drew lots of attention from people passing by, with many stopping for a handshake and photo. As noted above the volume of people stopping to see her consumed the time the campaign had planned for going into Prospect Park. She and Williams instead headed to nearby blocks, knocking on about a half dozen doors that the Nixon campaign identified in their substantial afternoon canvassing. They received a good welcome at each stop, with lengthy chats and supportive comments and one resident inviting them into her apartment. It was a low return effort, though, compared to their time on the street outside Prospect Park, as the time consumed in moving around for the half dozen stops would have likely produced dozens of voter contacts and greater visibilty on the corner outside Prospect Park.
The press (other than NYTrue.com) had faded away as Nixon and Williams went door knocking. They did have a campaign videographer and photographer with them, however, so it may have been productive despite the lesser volume of contacts.