ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday appeared to suggest that Mayor Bill de Blasio may be behind a potential gubernatorial bid by actress Cynthia Nixon.
Nixon, who appeared as Miranda in “Sex and the City,” has been in talks with campaign operatives about challenging Cuomo for the Democratic nomination in September, multiple news outlets have reported.
Nixon, an education activist, is a de Blasio ally and would be seen as testing Cuomo from the political left.
Asked Wednesday in a conference call with reporters if he thought the mayor, a Democratic rival, was playing a role in Nixon’s potential bid, Cuomo remarked: “I think it was probably either the mayor of New York or Vladimir Putin . . . I’m going to leave it to you great investigative reporters to follow the facts” and find the truth.
Then, he added: “Russian interference?” and dissolved into a long laugh.
Asked later whether Nixon’s name recognition could impact the race, Cuomo compared her with bigger stars.
“Normally, name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor,” said Cuomo. “But if it’s just about name recognition, I’m hoping that Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race. If it’s just about name recognition, that would really be a problem.”
De Blasio’s office didn’t immediately comment.
On Tuesday, a Nixon spokeswoman said the actress was considering a run. NY1 first reported Nixon has been consulting with Democratic strategists who are aligned with the party’s left flank and are former de Blasio advisers.
Cuomo faced a challenge in 2014 from the left when a then-unknown Fordham University professor, Zephyr Teachout, garnered a surprising 34 percent in the Democratic primary even though she ran a bare-bones campaign.
Liberal activists who have been critical of Cuomo on education and other issues think an insurgent with greater name recognition could provide a stronger challenge, even though polls say Cuomo is still popular among Democratic voters statewide.
Nixon, in an interview last year on NBC’s “Today” show, blamed Cuomo for what she called the widening gap between the richest and poorest schools.