Whatever happens in today’s New York primaries, the progressive wave is winning

The Democratic Party is being pulled towards policies like marijuana legalisation and universal healthcare.

Today’s New York Democratic primaries see the culmination of several tense and hard-fought races, but the headline is actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who is running to unseat the incumbent Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. At the end of August, the two finally met in a fractious debate.

On Wednesday night, at New York’s PUBLIC Arts venue, Nixon and a slate of other candidates running for the nomination to be candidates for statewide office for the Democratic party (which, in New York, means almost certain victory), including professor Zephyr Teachout, who is running for state attorney-general, and Jumaane Williams, who is running for lieutenant-governor, appeared at a raucous election-eve rally organised by the progressive Working Families Party.

Nixon, the headline act, is unlikely to win her primary today: she is behind by almost 40 points, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average. But in a pretty meaningful way she has already had a dramatic effect on the race, dragging Cuomo, and the party in general, towards progressive policy positions including the legalisation of marijuana.

“This has been a long, hard-fought campaign,” Nixon told the crowd. “But the most important part comes tomorrow.” Her voice was hoarse. “We can win, and I would not be running if I didn’t know that we could win. How do I know that we can win? Because this is a moment in our country’s history, a terrible moment with Donald Trump in the White House, and if we approach it the right way in a progressive place like New York, this is an opportunity to enact real foundational change – not just to fight against the Trump agenda, but to combat the inequality that is swallowing our state whole.”

Teachout, who appeared beside Nixon at the party, to equally rapturous cheers from the crowd, first made waves on the New York political scene in 2014 when she mounted a progressive challenge to Governor Cuomo’s re-election bid in the Democratic primary. It was a long-shot campaign and she said she hoped to get 15 per cent of the vote. Instead she got 35 per cent – a remarkable achievement and one that also forced Cuomo to move further left, by introducing policies such as the $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The Fordham Law School professor, anti-corruption expert and left-wing activist is running for the vacancy left by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after several woman he dated accused him of sexual violence. Within days of Donald Trump’s inauguration she had filed a lawsuit accusing the president of breaking the emoluments clause of the constitution through his foreign business interests, and she is likely to emerge as a key figure among the Democratic (and on occasion Republican) attorney-generals, who have been collaborating to sue the Trump administration on issues from environment deregulation to immigrant and minority rights.

“We have a bigot and a racist holding the presidency,” she told the crowd. “Somebody that is assaulting …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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