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New York governor's race: Andrew M. Cuomo, Cynthia Nixon, John DeFrancisco among the candidates

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is being challenged by actress Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is being challenged by

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is being challenged by Cynthia Nixon, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, right, and others. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris; Drew Angerer; Dutchess County executive

The race for New York governor is picking up steam, as a new poll released Wednesday shows incumbent Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with a commanding lead over the competition.

According to the Quinnipiac University Poll, 50 percent of New Yorkers surveyed would vote for Cuomo over Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon. The actress and education advocate from Manhattan garnered 28 percent of votes from those polled, with 22 percent abstaining. 

"Actress Cynthia Nixon is a nuisance to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he seeks a third term, but at this stage she is not running strong enough to make either the Democratic primary or general election challenge successful,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said.

Since announcing her candidacy, Nixon has accused Cuomo of being a “fake Democrat” and referred to Albany as a “cesspool.” Cuomo has suggested Nixon’s run was part of the “political silly season.

The governor also bested Republican challenger Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro 57-26 in a two-way general election poll, according to Quinnipiac University.

Candidates have until July 12 to file with the state Board of Elections. Here’s a look at those who have already filed:

Andrew M. Cuomo 

Cuomo, who was first elected governor in 2011, is seeking his third term. The Queens native was previously New York attorney general, U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development and chair of the New York City Homeless Commission. In his most recent State of the State address, he listed several priorities, including reforming the criminal justice system, holding pharmaceutical distributors responsible for their role in the opioid crisis and fighting the federal government on its tax plan and policies on immigration, abortion, the environment and health care.

The governor has recently been critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s housing authority over the conditions of several NYCHA developments. The city has fired back, saying the state has not delivered on promised funding to the agency.

Cuomo and the mayor also don’t see eye-to-eye on funding for the MTA, which is controlled by the state. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the transit agency in June, hoping to speed up necessary repairs.

Cynthia Nixon

Nixon, an actress and education advocate, announced her run for governor on March 19.

She quickly criticized Cuomo for the state of the MTA subway system, making the transit system one of the focuses of her campaign announcement. “Governor Cuomo has been focused on making superficial, cosmetic changes rather than fixing the real problems,” it says on Nixon’s campaign website. “He has completely neglected the non-glamorous infrastructure work that actually keeps the subway functioning.”

Nixon is also critical of the widening gap between the rich and poor in the state, accusing the governor of being beholden to “corporate interests and wealthy donors.”

John DeFrancisco

DeFrancisco, the deputy majority leader in the state Senate, announced he was running for governor in January.

The Republican represents New York’s 50th district, which includes counties around Syracuse.

He cited the state’s economy and decrease in residents as reasons for challenging Cuomo. “The rationale is we really need a change of direction,” he said at the time.

DeFrancisco has also been critical of Cuomo over his former aide Joseph Percoco, who was found guilty of corruption. “Now that the trial is over, it’s time for @NYGovCuomo to answer some questions. How could this happen and how did he ‘not’ know about it?” he tweeted after the jury’s decision.

Marc Molinaro

The current Dutchess County executive had said in January he was no longer considering a run for the Republican nomination, but continued to rack up endorsements from GOP county chairs nonetheless. He is expected to formally announce his campaign on April 2, and Molinaro, 42, confirmed in mid-March, after the corruption conviction of Percoco, that he does intend to compete for the nomination.

Molinaro was elected as Dutchess County executive in 2011. His political history dates to 1994, when he was elected to serve on the Village of Tivoli board of trustees at the age of 18. He became the youngest mayor in the history of the United States a year later and, at 36, he was the youngest person elected as Dutchess County executive.

Since 2011, Molinaro has “sought to create a comprehensive economic development strategy, one that more aggressively attracts and retains private sector companies and jobs,” per the Dutchess County website.

Joe Holland 

Holland prides himself on being an entrepreneur, “not a politician.” He has never held an elected office; however, he was an administration official for former Gov. George Pataki.

Holland once opened a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream store in Harlem and boasts a resume that includes opening a homeless shelter and writing a motivational book, per his campaign website.

Larry Sharpe

Sharpe is a native New Yorker, businessman and a veteran of the Marine Corps, who is running for the state’s top executive seat as a Libertarian. He credits his seven years in the military with developing the skills he believes are needed to be an effective leader, including discipline, teamwork and strategic thinking.

As a businessman, Sharpe got his start in trucking and distribution. He is the managing director of the Neo-Sage Group, which specializes in business training for entrepreneurs. Sharpe has also taught at such universities as Yale, Columbia and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, according to his campaign website.

He believes the key to fixing the college education system in New York lies in institutions working with private businesses to teach what skills are needed after graduation.

With Newsday

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