By Carlo Versano
Cynthia Nixon is sticking by her controversial bagel order.
The progressive Democrat challenging incumbent Andrew Cuomo in New York State's upcoming gubernatorial primary shared a cinnamon raisin bagel topped with lox and cream cheese with Cheddar on Tuesday. The unconventional medley ignited a firestorm on Twitter over the weekend, but Nixon has bigger fish to fry.
She wants the two-term Cuomo, who has long been thought to have presidential ambitions, to re-establish his liberal bona fides for voters calling for change. Cuomo maintains a 40 point lead over his challenger, according to the latest polling. But Nixon pointed to a slew of recent upsets ー Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Andrew Gillum, and Ayanna Pressley ー that have fueled her optimism for Thursday's primary.
"The polls across the board are just not capturing the progressive moment we're in," she said, adding that hundreds of thousands of new Democrats have registered to vote across New York State following Donald Trump's election.
Nixon's platform is built on issues of housing affordability, universal healthcare, and criminal justice reform. The latter has garnered her perhaps the most traction.
In a debate last month, Nixon pointedly called the legalization of marijuana a "racial-justice issue."
"Using marijuana is something that's effectively been legal for white people for a long time," she said during her interview on Cheddar. "It's time to make it legal for everybody else."
Part of that reform includes paroling and expunging the records of New Yorkers who were convicted of smoking or selling pot and using tax revenues from a nascent (decriminalized) weed industry to invest in communities that have been ravaged by the decades-long war on drugs.
Nixon's position on pot was viral enough to cause rapper T.I. to gush over her on Twitter, though he admitted he doesn't know who the candidate is.
Cuomo, for his part, rejected what he called "reparations" during the debate, but struck a more cautious, pro-legalization position ー a leftward policy change that may have developed only at Nixon's prodding.
But the actress-turned-activist isn't running to liberalize Cuomo ー she's running to replace him.
"To be informed about Andrew Cuomo is to want a change," she said.
The former "Sex and the City" star said she has been encouraged by support upstate and in the suburbs, though New York City remains her core base. To that end, she has run aggressively on a campaign to fix the subway, pinning the decrepit state of the system on her opponent.
In New York, the subways are theoretically controlled by the governor, who oversees the MTA. Nixon has pledged to pass congestion pricing and a tax on the wealthy to pay for much-needed repairs to an aging infrastructure. She said Cuomo has not aggressively fought for the funding in Albany.
With two days to go until New York Democrats head to the polls, Nixon, who has refused corporate donations, knows she's the underdog against a well-known, well-funded, powerful incumbent. But there's no denying the country's progressive wave. The question remains whether that wave will be enough to carry Nixon to victory.
For full interview, click here.