Cynthia Nixon on N.Y. governor's race: People 'would like me to run'

ALBANY, N.Y. — Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon on Tuesday acknowledged she is being encouraged to run for New York governor next year and blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his record on education funding.

But she didn't say whether she would run against him.

Nixon, who has been active in New York politics in recent years, said on the Today show, "There are a lot of people who would like me to run. And I think for a variety of reasons, but I think the No. 1 is education."

Nixon, 51, who lives in Manhattan and has three children, has been vocal in pushing for more equality in how New York spends more than $26 billion a year on its public schools, and she didn't reject a possible run for governor when asked on the show.

She said the state's education funding is something "parents all across New York state talk to me about."

Nixon's name has been floated in recent days as a possible Democratic primary challenger to Cuomo next year when he plans to seek a third term. 

Other potential Democratic challengers include Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and former state senator Terry Gipson who represented parts of Duchess and Putnam counties.

But Nixon's star power and potential to rally the New York City liberal base against Cuomo has drawn particular intrigue, and Nixon used the national platform on the Today show to criticize Cuomo's record on education.

"Governor Cuomo likes to say that, ‘We spend more per pupil than any other state,’ and that is actually true, but the only reason that is true is because we spend so much on the kids in our wealthiest districts," Nixon said.

She has supported the contention by labor-backed education groups that the wealth gap between rich and poor schools is about $10,000 a year. The problem is partly because of property taxes: Wealthy districts have more tax dollars to use for schools than poorer districts.

But Nixon charged that Cuomo hasn't done enough to address the issue.

"That gap now between our richest schools and our poorest schools are wider under Governor Cuomo than it has ever been before, and that’s got to stop," Nixon continued.

Under Cuomo, the state has increased education aid by $6.1 billion, or 31% since 2011, his state budget in January said. The $26 billion in state aid to schools is the most in New York history and by far the most per capita in the nation.

Cuomo's office said 70% of the state's increases in school aid have gone to high-need schools.

"The more people talking about issues that make New York State stronger, the better," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement. "We know Ms. Nixon is a passionate advocate for education, and we would be happy to sit down with her anytime to talk about it."

Education groups have said more needs to be done to address inequities in school spending — and at least one group is encouraging Nixon to run.

"Cynthia Nixon would really excite people who care about public schools and people who think we need progressive leadership in New York state," said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, a labor-backed group.

"New York is way behind the rest of the country when it comes to inequity between rich and poor in our public schools, and Cynthia is making that an issue that needs to be addressed."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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