New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called on her primary opponent, sitting Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to apologize for a mailer paid for by the state Democratic Party which questioned her support for issues important to Jewish voters.
Nixon, who attends Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, announced her bid for the Democratic nomination for New York governor in March. The primary is scheduled for September 13.
Cuomo, who heads the state Democratic Party, has said that he had no knowledge of the mailer and said through a spokeswoman that the language was “inappropriate.”
“I am the mother of Jewish children,” Nixon, who is raising the children of her first marriage as Jews, said in a statement late on Sunday. She questioned how Cuomo could not know about the mailer and called on him to apologize, urging him to record a robocall to go out to voters apologizing for “calling me an anti-Semite,” The New York Times reported.
“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won’t stand strong for our Jewish communities,” the mailer sent Saturday to some 7,000 Jewish households, said. It also states that Nixon is “against funding for yeshivas,” supports “BDS, the racist, xenophobic campaign to boycott Israel” and has been “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”
In an interview on Tuesday with Times’ reporter Lisa Lerer, Nixon said of the mailer: “I thought it was disgusting and cynical and really surprising that Andrew Cuomo’s New York State party would stoop to this kind of fear-mongering and lies. To use this in this nasty and untruthful way — it’s really Trumpian.”
She added that she thinks Cuomo knew about the mailer despite his denials. “I think he’s a micromanager and it’s his Democratic Party. The idea that he did not know about it is patently ridiculous.”
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and her wife Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a joint statement Friday saying that the charge that Nixon was soft on anti-Semitism is “a baseless lie.”
A poll released before the issue of the mailer went public, showed that Cuomo leads Nixon by 63 percent to 22 percent.
Meanwhile, the New York Post reported on Tuesday that a Cuomo campaign official had pitched a story to a reporter at the newspaper about Nixon’s opposition to Israeli settlements and her support of the BDS movement against Israel a day before the mailer was delivered.
The email pitch included excerpts of news reports from 2010, detailing how Nixon was among about 200 American celebrities — including many Jews — who signed a letter supporting a boycott by Israeli actors, directors and playwrights of a new theater in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
Nixon told reporters Saturday that she does not support the BDS movement, although supports the right of others to participate in the movement on free speech grounds.