Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer and the summer campaign season, is upon us. The nominating conventions are over. And on the crudest level, the story is this: New York’s Republicans know the face they want to show to voters in November, while the state’s Democrats are going to spend the next 111 days figuring out who they are.
It’s been clear for weeks that Marcus Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, would have the top of the Republican ticket to himself, but as the state GOP made that official with its convention in Manhattan last week, it also ended any suspense over who would be their nominee for lieutenant governor—it’s Julie Killian—and avoided a possible primary for attorney general by tabbing Keith Wofford. Jonathan Trichter will be the Republican candidate for state comptroller.
The picture is more complicated on the Democratic side, where Andrew Cuomo received official party backing at the state convention on Long Island but Cynthia Nixon will challenge him in the September 13 primary. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was also renominated but Brooklyn City Councilmember Jumaane Williams will challenge her. And there’s a wide open race for attorney general, with Public Advocate Letitia James, former Cuomo aide Leecia Eve and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout in the mix.
Add in the Working Families Party (who’ve backed Nixon, Williams and DiNapoli and said they’ll put James or Teachout in their AG slot depending on the outcome of the primary race) and the Greens (whose ticket features) Howie Hawkins, Jia Lee, Michael Sussman and Marc Dunlea) and it’s clear that most of the action this summer will be on the left. That could render Molinaro invisible or just keep him admirably above the fray.
In his acceptance speech on Thursday, Cuomo depicted the looming intra-party contest as a battle for the party’s soul — a description that his progressive opponents would likely endorse. The governor casts it as a battle of results versus rhetoric. His opponents might dub it principle versus posturing. Either way, it is not a friendly thing. Nor is Molinaro’s critique of the governor especially generous: In the GOP banner-bearer’s telling, the governor is entitled, out of touch and corrupt. And those are his good qualities.
On this week’s podcast, Ben Max and I hear a little from the two nominees and map out the storylines they’re following as the season turns.