New York Party Conventions Begin May 23

May 22, 2018

Both major political parties hold their conventions later this week. The Democrats and the Republicans are holding their events simultaneously, on May 23 and 24. The Republicans are in New York City and the Democrats are on Long Island. 

On Wednesday, the GOP is expected to nominate Marc Molinaro as its candidate for governor. Molinaro, the 42-year-old Dutchess County executive, has been in politics since he was a teenager, becoming mayor of his hometown of Tivoli when he was 19.

Molinaro is an underdog in the two-to-one Democratic state, with little campaign money and name recognition. He has distanced himself from President Trump, who is unpopular in New York, saying he did not vote for Trump in the 2016 election. Trump is still backed by a significant percentage of core Republican voters that Molinaro will need in November.

The presumptive GOP nominee has focused his case on perceived weaknesses of incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo. Molinaro says Cuomo’s overbearing and conducts too much business, like state budget negotiations, in secret.

“Too often, the tone coming from the governor’s office is angry and divisive,” Molinaro recently told a crowd of supporters. “The language is crude and offensive. And the office is dark and shrouded in secrecy.”

Molinaro has also criticized Cuomo for corruption within his administration. The governor’s former closest aide was convicted on federal bribery charges, and other former Cuomo associates face trial in June.

Molinaro has picked Julie Killian, a chemical engineer from Westchester, as his running mate. Killian lost a special state Senate election to Democrat Shelley Mayer in April.

On Thursday, Andrew Cuomo will be nominated for a third term in office at the Democratic Convention. Cuomo, who began his term as a moderate, has tacked left in recent years. Lately, he’s come out against a garbage burning plant in the Finger Lakes and dropped opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana. Cuomo has also positioned himself as the opposition to President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, as he outlined in a recent speech to the nurses’ union, the New York State Nurses Association.

“What we're going to do together is make New York State the home of the rise of the resistance. We're going to show this nation the alternative to Trump's America. And the alternative to Trump's America is the great state of New York, the beacon of progressive values, the state that says we can all succeed together,” Cuomo said on April 20.

The union later endorsed him.

Kathy Hochul will likely remain as Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor.

The Democratic Party announced Monday that former First Lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the convention and will endorse Cuomo for governor.

Cuomo faces a primary challenge from Sex and the City actor and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon. Nixon is also the candidate for the Working Families Party. The progressive party endorsed Cuomo in 2010 and 2014, but had a falling out with the governor this year.

Nixon received the formal party designation May 19, but she was chosen a month earlier at a Working Families Party meeting in Albany, where she said Cuomo’s record falls short in areas including income equality, school funding, and campaign finance reform, and getting more Democrats elected to the State Senate.   

“We have had it with the corruption and dysfunction in Albany,” Nixon said as the crowd chanted her name. “We have had it with corporate Democrats.”

Cuomo is ahead in polls of likely voters for the Democratic primary. But Nixon could remain on the Working Families Party line in November and draw votes from the incumbent governor in a general election. Nixon has not yet said what she’d do.

Nixon’s campaign says she will attend the Democratic State Convention. She is not expected to ask for or to receive the 25 percent of the delegates’ vote needed to automatically place her on the ballot. She is likely to gain access to the Democratic primary through petitions instead.

Both of the major parties will also nominate other statewide candidates. The race for attorney general has become more interesting, after Eric Schneiderman resigned the office after accusations he assaulted multiple women that he dated. Schneiderman denies the allegations.

New York City Public Advocate Tish James is the likely Democratic choice to run for attorney general. Republican Manny Alicandro, a Brooklyn attorney, entered the AG race before Schneiderman resigned. John Cahill, a former aide to Governor Pataki and the 2014 GOP candidate for attorney general, is also mentioned as a potential choice.