Primary day is finally here in New York State. While there are plenty of races to watch up and down the ticket, most of the media eyeballs are still being drawn to the governor’s race. Unless the polls are so completely broken that we should stop bothering people by calling to ask them questions, Cynthia Nixon is on her way to an epic beating. She was down by more than 40 points in the last Sienna poll and there’s simply no reason to believe there’s a magical, hidden unicorn vote out there getting ready to put her over the top. (Though when my wife – a Democrat – left to go vote this morning she said she’d decided to vote for Nixon, so who knows?)
Let’s just assume that Nixon is going to lose, no matter the margin. That’s the end of it, right? Well… not quite. Nixon is the nominee on the Working Families Party line and unless her name is removed somehow she will still be on the ballot in November. That immediately raises a terrible specter for the Democrats. Andrew Cuomo is a shoe-in to win a third term in a head to head match with GOP candidate Marc Molinaro. But he won’t win in a blowout. Most likely he’ll pull somewhere between 54 and 60 percent of the vote. But if Nixon were still on the ballot and actively campaigning as a spoiler, current polls indicate that she could easily soak up as much as a quarter of Cuomo’s votes, at least in theory. That could drag him down well within Molinaro’s reach.
Before anyone gets too carried away, the WFP has had a plan in place since early this summer for how they would deal with this situation. New York election laws are byzantine in nature and getting someone off the ballot after the primary is complicated and difficult, but it can be done. Here’s how the WFP plans to do it.
One of the few, can’t-miss ways to get somebody off the ballot legally is to have them run for another office. The 66th state Assembly District covering Greenwich Village and lower Manhattan is where Cynthia Nixon lives. They are represented by Deborah Glick, who has held the seat for more than a quarter century and has no plans to leave any time soon. Normally the WFP would endorse her, but this year they put a placeholder candidate, local attorney Doug Seidman, on their line to run against her. Seidman isn’t even campaigning and nobody is going to vote for him anyway, so he’s not a concern.
Assuming Nixon loses today, the plan is to pull Seidman and run him on an open WFP line for a judgeship… another race he won’t win. But that takes him off the WFP line for the Assembly seat and the party nominates Cynthia Nixon to run for it, getting her off the gubernatorial ballot. (Have I lost anyone yet?) But this poses two potential problems. The first is for Glick. It’s conceivable that having Nixon’s name on the ballot in her home turf could actually see the actress being elected to an office she has no intention of serving in, putting Glick out on the street. On the plus side (at least for the Democrats), Nixon can’t draw enough votes to elect a Republican opponent. That district is so blue that Glick ran unopposed in 2016 and won the 2014 race by a margin of 80-13.
The second problem with this complex scheme, however, is that Nixon has to agree to the plan and file the documents to run in the other race. Is there any chance she’s going to be ticked off enough by Cuomo’s hardball campaign tactics and dirty tricks that she would stay in the race, bringing us back to the possibility that she could wind up putting Molinaro in office? She’s been saying no up until now, but there’s an old saying about a woman scorned…