Actress Cynthia Nixon blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a "bully" and a "wannabe Republican" Monday during her first visit to Albany since announcing her bid for New York governor.
The "Sex and the City" star and public education advocate criticized the two-term governor for not doing enough to ensure equal opportunities for poor and minority students. She also faulted Cuomo's effort to combat government corruption and said that while he touts himself as a progressive, he's governed as a member of what she called Albany's "old boys' club."
"We've all seen it: Andrew the bully. He bullies other elected officials. He bullies anyone who criticizes him," Nixon said. "It reminds me of the behavior we see from Donald Trump every day. My experience has taught me that there is only one way to deal with a bully. You have to stand up to him."
Nixon's from-the-left challenge to Cuomo in September's Democratic primary has upended what many had predicted to be an easy re-election for Cuomo. An ally of Cuomo's nemesis, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Nixon's bid is highlighting Cuomo's often uneasy relationship with liberals in his own party.
Nixon was in Albany to promote education policy, claiming the neediest school districts are not receiving their fair share of funding under the Cuomo Administration.
A spokesman for Cuomo's re-election campaign did not immediately respond to messages seeking a response to Nixon's comments. The campaign has previously pointed to Cuomo's achievements including legalizing gay marriage, tightening gun restrictions, raising the minimum wage, expanding public education funding and banning fracking.
Cuomo's allies came to his defense, with labor leader Hector Figueroa saying the election will come down to who can best serve New Yorkers, "not who can seize the most headlines by waging personal attacks against another candidate."
Nixon, a 51-year-old New York-native and Grammy, Emmy, and Tony winner has never held public office, but as an activist she has lobbied extensively for better education funding and advocated for gay rights. She is the mother of three children and if elected would be the state's first openly gay governor.
She faces a difficult run. Cuomo has a $30 million war chest, and a Siena College poll released last week showed Cuomo leading Nixon 66 percent to 19 percent among registered Democrats, and by a similar margin among self-identified liberals. Nixon did a little better among younger and upstate Democrats but didn't have more than a quarter of either group.
Nixon came to Albany amid budget negotiations, with a state spending plan due by the end of the week.
Much of the budget has been negotiated at Cuomo's Executive Mansion, the governor's residence in Albany. The leaders meetings with the governor have consisted of the traditional so-called "Four Men in a Room."
"When Speaker Heastie goes to the mansion, he is surrounded by an old boys club of one actual Republican and two 'wannabe Republicans,'" Nixon said.
The budget negotiations are taking place behind closed doors without Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the State Senate Democrats and the only woman conference leader in Albany.
Nixon and others have pointed out that it's all men behind closed doors, even though they are negotiating a new sexual harassment policy for the state government.