Upper West Siders Pack Synagogue for Lively Forum as Cynthia Nixon Makes Her Case to be Governor

Cynthia Nixon addresses the crowd.

By Carol Tannenhauser

In a sea of Democrats, Janice Warner stood out: tall, quiet, regal. It seemed fitting that she had been an English teacher at the elite Hunter High School, years before, when Cynthia Nixon was a student there.

As Janice Warner waited in the long line outside the synagogue, she remembered Nixon as a teenager.

“She was brilliant,” she said. “And one of the hardest workers I have ever had, even at Hunter. She’s a dear, good, solid person, focused, well read, well researched. What she does is bring to the panel a lot of issues, and she’s making Cuomo have to face them and talk about them.”

Warner, 70, had come to hear her former student speak, now as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York State, at a forum sponsored by five local democratic clubs on Sunday night. Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, at 257 West 88th Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue, donated its sanctuary for the event.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who Nixon will face in the September 13th primary, was invited, but did not attend. Aides said he was “busy helping to win back the house in the midterm elections.”

“Too busy for us,” someone commented.

Also speaking were Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, representing both Governor Cuomo and herself. She will face off in a primary against Jumaane Williams, a New York City Council Member, who was also there, along with a host of other elected officials. But the main draw was Nixon, the Sex & the City star and longtime Upper West Side education activist.

Public Advocate Tish James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were in attendance.

The format of the evening was opening statements by the candidates, followed by questions for each from the audience, delivered by moderator Celeste Katz, senior political reporter for Glamour magazine. First up was Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a former upstate U.S. representative, who lost her seat in 2012 by 1% because, she said, of her pro-choice stance, which she had stuck to, despite being a devout Catholic in a very conservative district, and having the Church and the Koch brothers working against her.

Hochul, a lawyer who lives in Buffalo, said there were more Democrats in the sanctuary than in the whole congressional district she once represented. She lauded her and the Governor’s achievements, including raising the minimum wage and fighting for paid-family leave. Calling herself “the only woman in state office” she said she has been out there “from Plattsburgh to Montauk, recruiting women to run for office, because we need their voices at the table.”

Kathy Hochul with Celeste Katz.

She finished her opening remarks with a request.

“I have championed causes that each of you believe with all your hearts, and, sometimes, in other parts of the state, it’s tough to do that. I’m a fighter, but my request to all of you here tonight is, let’s not fight each other, because we have an enemy in Washington.”

Her request was denied.

“New York State schools are the second most unequal in the entire country, and that doesn’t reflect who we are or what we believe in,” said Cynthia Nixon, speaking next. “New York is the single most unequal state in terms of wealth and income. The top 1% of New Yorkers earn 45 times what the other 99% earn, combined. That’s not just a mistake. That’s not inadvertent. That’s a choice to slash taxes on corporations and the super rich and slash services and opportunities for everyone else. It’s a choice that we’re used to seeing from Republicans like Donald Trump, but, for the last eight years, it’s a choice that we’ve seen made over and over and over again, by our governor, Andrew Cuomo.”

About 700 people RSVP’d for the event.

“I voted for Andrew Cuomo eight years ago because I believed he was what he said he was: a Democrat,” Nixon continued. “In his first year in office, in a back-room deal, he encouraged a group of Democratic senators to caucus and vote with the Republicans, shoring up their control of the state senate, giving them the ability to block almost all of our legislative priorities.”

Nixon is referring to the Independent Democratic Caucus — I.D.C. — a group of eight senators who ran as Democrats, but voted with the Republicans. This April, Cuomo brokered a truce with this renegade faction of the party.

“I hope they’ve gone away for good and we just put the nail in that coffin,” Hochul said. “The Governor and I are working to help local communities find candidates who don’t run a certain way, then sit on the Republican side of the aisle. Let’s end that. It was paralyzing the issues we want to get through.”

Among the priorities she mentioned were: addressing the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, stronger environmental protections, getting the money out of politics, voting reform, and codifying Roe v. Wade. Nixon listed “housing, education, and jobs” as the top issues facing the state.

Jumaane Williams, who is challenging Hochul in the Lieutenant Governor’s primary, would like to fundamentally change the nature of that role.

Jumaane Williams.

“Most people who have been Lieutenant Governor have been the Governor’s Lieutenant Governor,” Williams explained. “I want to be the people’s Lieutenant Governor. I want to be the person that shines a light on issues when no one else will. This is not a knock on anyone, but on what the system has been. We should have someone who is working with the Governor, but also saying ‘the emperor has no clothes’ when that is necessary. I have a record of doing that productively, and that’s what’s needed in 2018. Because everything is not all right in the City or State of New York. Someone has to point out why, and as I travel the state, people are pointing at the Governor for lack of leadership on everything from housing to transportation.”

The sponsoring democratic clubs were: Ansonia Independent Democrats, Broadway Democrats, Community Free Democrats, Park River Independent Democrats, and Three Parks Independent Democrats.

To learn more about the candidates and their positions, visit their websites: https://kathyhochul.com/

NEWS | 60 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      Aides said he was “busy helping to win back the house in the midterm elections.”

      “Win back the house” with faux-Democrats?

    2. Bob Lamm says:

      It’s wonderful that Cynthia Nixon has given major focus to the dirty deal Andrew Cuomo made with Jeff Klein and Republicans to keep the GOP in control of the New York State Senate.

    3. UWSHebrew says:

      Cynthia Nixon, BDS supporter, welcomed by a Synagogue. Sickening.

      • B.W. says:

        And what does her support of Bernie Sanders have to do with anything?

      • Zulu says:

        Based on your obtuse frame of mind I can see why you think that way.

        As far as Nixon is concerned she’s not getting my vote. I don’t see enough experience or know how in her to make me think she would make a good governor. Irrelevant is her celebrity status or her platform, in spite of personally subscribing to her ideals.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          just because you learned the word “obtuse” from watching the Shawshank Redemption, doesn’t mean anyone is impressed with your using it in this conversation.

          • Zulu says:

            My knowledge of the word “obtuse” predates the release of such gem of cinematography. Being fluent in more than one language has its advantages.

            But one thing is certain, now we all know where you learned that word.

        • Independent says:

          Zulu, wasn’t your first sentence gratuitous? UWSHebrew merely expressed his opinion. Couldn’t you have disagreed with or challenged it without condescendingly insulting him?

          • Zulu says:

            You misunderstand UWSHebrew. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t insulted by my comment. He’s openly and unapologetically a traditionalist.

      • 2 Old 2 B a Librul says:

        For those uninformed, BDS stands for Boycott-Divest-Sanction ISRAEL.

        The BDS’ers use their “concern” for the Palestinians to hide their basic anti-Israel beliefs.

        But equally sickening is Ms. Nixon’s self-appointed role as “longtime Upper West Side education activist.”

        If you are:
        a) a parent of a high-performing youngster but cannot afford private school tuition, OR
        b) an elementary or middle-school teacher….

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          could you please explain why ” a parent of a high-performing youngster but cannot afford private school tuition” and “an elementary or middle-school teacher” should be “afraid, very afraid” of education activist parents?

          this sounds like it’s a classist / racist remark, but i would like to give you the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions. but you owe your readership an explanation.

          • Sherman says:

            Hi Bruce

            Instead of addressing his comment you lash out at him for (in you’re opinion) being “racist”.

            Next you’ll attack him as being “greedy”.

            Truly smug, arrogant and pathetic.


      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        @UWSHebrew said:

        “Cynthia Nixon, BDS supporter, welcomed by a Synagogue. Sickening.”

        her daughter got bat mitzvahed in that Synagogue. But I’m glad to know you have a monopoly on Jewish-American opinion.

    4. Scott says:

      No one mentioned the 10-ton elephant in the room, Eric Schneiderman? LOL, Democrats.

      Also if Nixon thinks New Yorkers need to be taxed more, I wish her luck in Sept.

    5. Harold says:

      Her platform:
      1. Fix the subways.
      2. Legalize pot.
      3. She’s got my vote.

    6. Wendolyn says:

      Cuomo should appoint her as interim attorney general, she played a successful lawyer on TV so she’s about as qualified for this role as she is for Governor.

    7. Daren Roth says:

      i will move out of ny if she wins

      • dannyboy says:


        I guess that’s your commitment.

      • Sherman says:

        Don’t pack just yet. Nixon has zero chance of becoming governor.

        Her shtick might play well with some lefties on the UWS but NY is actually a very conservative state and I doubt she’ll appeal to many people in a place like Binghamton.

        I don’t like Cuomo but at least he’s smart enough to realize that New York is a very diverse and complex state and what might be popular in NYC won’t necessarily be popular elsewhere in the state.

      • David says:

        Daren – weren’t you also going to move to Canada if Bush (either one) or Trump won?

    8. Rob G. says:

      Ughh, she’ll put everyone out of business and into the poorhouse even faster than Bernie Sanders. My vote stays with Cuomo.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        … because, as we all know, refusing to cut taxes on corporations and the ultra rich (the only two policies she stated that you could possibly be referring to) well “put everyone out of business and into the poorhouse.”

    9. Wendy says:

      I’ve comments @ Gale Brewer, when she was in person in Central Harlem. I’ve dozens of comments re New York State. I’ve 100s of complaints @ some of New York City. Protect [myish ] Israel. NOT all of us Jews/esses in the world have a Nooyawk accent; a Brooklyn dialect. NO to gay marriage.NO to more cuts to Food Stamps.
      Many clients of social work need kinder Leases. Mo’ public toilets needed, now.

    10. SuperMensch says:

      I had my own personal encounter with Ms. Nixon some 15 years ago. Back then, we were both touring public schools on the UWS for our soon-to-be kindergartner children. Ms Nixon pushed ahead of my wife and I in line at the PS 87 tour claiming that she was late for an appointment. I always thought she seemed very arrogant and entitled from that moment on. Perfect for the role of her character on “Sex in the City.” Guess you would call it typecasting…

    11. Ken says:

      Nixon’s the One!

    12. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      Cynthia Nixon got an enthusiastic reception from the audience Sunday night.

      it’s interesting that many of the same angry voices complaining about Nixon also have trashed Helen Rosenthal, De Blasio, and Gale Brewer. All three of those carried the Upper West Side overwhelmingly. Maybe these angry voices are a good sign for Cynthia!

      btw, i couldn’t find any evidence that she supports BDS. She signed a letter once supporting some Israeli artists who refused to perform in a West Bank settlement. These settlements are illegal, and many artists, both BDS and non-BDS, signed the statement.

      Some of the commenters above are trying to intimidate Cynthia and her supporters by making absolute, unconditional support for the Netanyahu government a litmus test. I don’t think most UWS voters will fall for that. These same people hated Obama for the same reasons… and he did pretty well on the UWS.

    13. michael says:

      This = Depressing

      It is without question a sign of our decline.

    14. Boomerbabe says:

      Cynthia Nixon is a very good and capable person who should run for city council or Mayor of New York. This is way above her pay grade. She knows nothing about upstate politics.. Her good intentions( I believe they are) are not enough to know how to run a state the size of many countries..

    15. UWS_lifer says:

      Well, that’s it…..now I’m definitely voting for the woman from Law & Order….not the SVU woman but the original who played A.D.A. Claire Kinkaid….the lovely and talented Jill Hennesy.

      I mean, at least she could act.:) Either that or a politician who actually knows what they are doing and has some experience. Hmmmmm…what a novel concept.

    16. William Raudenbush says:

      After the conviction of Cuomo’s very top aid, Joseph Percoco for a cartoonishly corrupt pay-for-play scandal where he received over $300,000.00 in bribes for favors related to his position in the governor’s office; I’m at least willing to listen to anyone who offers an alternative to Cuomo.

      Tish and Gale haven’t endorsed Cuomo yet, and I think a wait and see attitude is aprropriate at this point. Besides, Cuomo’s ongoing failure to do anything substantive other than band-aids at the MTA is especially hostile to Manhattan.

    17. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      Another celebrity for public office?
      Haven’t we learned our lessons from our Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald J. Trump?

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        so, Dr. Goodman, you’re not even interested in finding out about her platform?

        a very shallow remark on your part.

        • Sherman says:

          Hi Bruce

          Would you be interested in finding out about the platform of the Republican candidate for governor?

          I guess you’re the only person out there who’s not shallow.


          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            Dear Sherm,

            When i criticize Republicans, it is BECAUSE of their platforms.

            Apparently you are not aware that Dr. Goodman considers himself a progressive.

            you apparently have not been reading anything i have written. You just want to anonymously lash out.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            oh, and i didn’t say Dr. Goodman was shallow. I said he made a “shallow remark.” Do you understand the difference, Sherm?

    18. Rodger Lodger says:

      I think the governorship would be great governmental experience for Nixon. She’ll learn how to deal with legislative leaders and agency heads. Any bright person can pick this up quickly. And she’ll have the respect of all.

      • Zulu says:

        Too much at stake to treat the governorship as a training tool. Nixon’s credentials and experience are no where near enough to run a state.

    19. JerryV says:

      I am strongly opposed to BDS-Israel. But regarding Nixon’s support of it, I wonder how many other countries Nixon has on her list for support of BDS. There are certainly a lot of countries in the world in which support for BDS is valid and needed. But if Nixon supports it for Israel alone, I know all I need to know about her.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        JerryV, the only country associated with BDS is Israel. I have no idea what you’re talking about re “other countries”. Only Israel gets slammed with movement.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          i would appreciate it if anyone can give proof that Cynthia Nixon supports BDS.

          of course, a lot of people, including Jewish people, do support BDS. it is an entirely legitimate position and its supporters should not be “excommunicated.” But i don’t think Cynthia Nixon supports it.

            • Tim says:

              Thank you UWSHebrew for providing substantive information. Maybe that will appease certain people, but probably not. Some people argue for the sake of arguing.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              Let’s be clear: that article DOES NOT show that Nixon supports BDS of Israel.

              it shows that she signed a petition supporting some Israeli actors who would not appear in West Bank settlements (good for them and good for her!), organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, which DOES support BDS.

              this is guilt by association.

              and there is also an attempt her to make support for the settlers and the Netanyahu government a “litmus test”, and drum anyone who doesn’t agree out of the Jewish community.

              even many Orthodox Jews are opposed to Netanyahu and the right wing Israeli government. some even support BDS!

          • JerryV says:

            BDS, as originally applied to apartheid South Africa can be a legitimate moral position. But when applied ONLY to a Jewish State by people who do not apply it to nations that are actually committing genocide, these people, aside from being hypocrites, are acting ONLY out of anti-Jewish feelings.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              a very broad statement, JerryV, and not accurate, as many many Jews, including Orthodox. support BDS.

    20. SBT says:

      I quit this temple years ago because of their pro Palestinian beliefs. This is the one temple she could speak at and not even have the question come up.

    21. Wonderful it seams to be well attended. Hope the Democrats in attendance are realy serious obout change and progressive forward thinking solutions to make NY thrive for all of us.

    22. geoff says:

      again, america might get what it deserves. how many times does it take?

      why are people with no experience elected to high office, in this country? such a mystery!!

      • dannyboy says:

        Experience in government office is not the prerequisite. Otherwise we’d get only professional politicians.
        We have experienced many professional politicians who demonstrate their self-dealing.

    23. Independent says:

      Re: BDS, etc.:

      Wait, this all concerns a gubernatorial race, right? These are candidates running to become the nominee of their party to run in a general election for Governor of the State of New York, right? Since when does that position involve foreign policy? Why should a candidate’s positions concerning any foreign country be an issue?

    24. Independent says:

      Bruce Bernstein points-out that not all Jews support the current government of the State of Israel or at least not all of its policies and actions. While that is certainly correct, I must add that there are also more than a few Jews who, for any number of reasons or a combination thereof, reject Zionism altogether. Such Jews include many Orthodox ones who actually consider Zionism antithetical to Judaism.

      As Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro explains in a number of YouTube videos, this is a theological position that does not demand that one side with any of the parties in the conflicts and disputes between Arabs and Israelis. For those interested in this perspective, I would recommend, in addition to Rabbi Shapiro’s videos, the web site truetorahjews dot org. (Although I find much about said web site to make me hesitant to recommend it, I nonetheless find it to contain valuable information that cannot readily be found elsewhere.)