With 99% of the precincts reporting, Cuomo had almost 66% of the vote to 34% for Nixon.
“This race for the nomination may be over, but the fight for the soul of the Democratic party is just beginning,” she told supporters after conceding the race.
In her remarks, she did not sound as if she would leave politics, but talked about her progressive campaign as being at the beginning of a movement. She said that her campaign forced Cuomo to more progressive stances on issues like marijuana legalization, and showed New Yorkers that it was the governor’s responsibility to fix the city’s subway system.
“Some people call this the ‘Cynthia effect.’ I call it what happens when we hold our leaders accountable,” she said.
She also said that her campaign showed the need for Democrats to take strong stances on issues like healthcare and immigration. She favored single payer healthcare, and supported the abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
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“We have to stand for something tangible,” she said. “It is not just enough to be better than Donald Trump. We have to give people something to show up and vote for.”
Just as polls closed at 9 p.m., Nixon’s campaign sent out an email lowering expectations for her performance and raising them for Cuomo. They insisted that it would be a “major embarrassment and significant under-performance” were he to win with less than a 41 percentage point lead, the spread in a recent Siena poll.
Her campaign also noted that they were greatly outspent and went up against the Democratic establishment, including figures like Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden, who endorsed Cuomo. She also complained of what she called a “smear attack,” that “had the desired effect of confusing voters into thinking that the mother of Jewish children was in fact anti-Semitic.”
“The establishment came at us with everything they had,” Nixon told her supporters. “Our allies and endorsers were threatened. My family was slandered. They outspent us more than ten to one. The other side spent $25 million trying to drown us out. But we wouldn’t back down.”
Nixon, though, was relentless in her attacks on Cuomo throughout the campaign, to the point where questions are being raised on how he will fare should he choose to run for president in 2020 in what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates. During their only debate, Nixon didn’t pull punches in calling Cuomo a “liar” and “corrupt.”
She also minimized not having experience in government.
“Experience doesn’t mean that much if you’re not actually good at governing,” she said, in another attack on Cuomo.
Cuomo, seeking a third term, will face Republican Marcus Molinaro, the current Duchess County Executive, in the November general election.
Speaking to reporters, Cuomo turned his attention to the general election, and compared his stances on LGBT rights, reproductive rights and gun control to those of President Trump.
“We don’t worship at the altar of the NRA,” he said. “That’s President Trump’s agenda, and that is the agenda of my Republican opponent.”
Nixon’s performance was slightly ahead of that of Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the Democratic primary in 2014 and garnered 33% of the vote. Turnout was much higher this year.