BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – Actress, activist and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon met in Buffalo Wednesday with local grassroots and community leaders. The roundtable discussion was not in its originally-scheduled venue. The woman who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic Primary is suggesting the governor – or at least some of his supporters – played a part in that sudden switch.
Nixon’s event took place inside The 9th Ward, located in the basement level of Babeville, on Delaware Avenue. The 10 a.m. roundtable discussion was originally scheduled for the Agustin Olivencia Community Center on Swan Street but, around 9:45 a.m., Nixon’s campaign announced the change of venue.
When she met with reporters following her closed-door meeting, Nixon accused her primary opponent of influencing that switch.
“We were supposed to be at a particular community center,” she said. “It seems like the governor didn’t really want us meeting there today, so we got bumped out. Despite the fact we were paying market-rate for the space, the community center didn’t feel like they could risk it.”
WBFO reached out to both the Olivencia Community Center and Governor Cuomo’s press office but as of Wednesday afternoon neither offered a reply.
“I just want to talk and I want to hear from people in Buffalo, what their experience is and particularly their economic development here,” Nixon said. “I have to say their experience is very… it leaves a lot wanting.”
She said what she hears from people is that the governor’s economic development strategy is a good place to start but it is being done in a “sloppy” way, favors Cuomo’s larger political contributors and isn’t creating the promised jobs.
Her criticism of Cuomo’s economic development plan, the Buffalo Billion, has been echoed by a Republican contender, Marc Molinaro. Nixon suggested having disgust with government corruption is a bipartisan issue. But she renewed her stance as a liberal candidate and believes her presence in the race has shifted the incumbent more leftward in his own politics.
“I do agree with that and I’m really determined to be New York State’s next governor. But if we can pick up some great progressive victories along the way, I say all the better,” Nixon said. “It’s a time with Donald Trump in the White House, it’s not a time of centrism. If you’re a Republican, you be a Republican. But I’m a Democrat and I’m going to be a Democrat.”
At the same time, she suggests Cuomo has created an environment over the past several years which has allowed some registered Democrats to align with Republicans and, in her words, be rewarded for it. She referred to Republicans maintaining control of the State Senate despite the fact that two Democrats won special elections Tuesday. Brooklyn-based State Senator Simcha Felder, although registered as a Democrat, has remained in caucus with the GOP since shortly after his 2012 election.
“(Cuomo) has created this climate and it’s not surprising we’re in the situation that we’re in wtih Simcha Felder right now,” she said.