Cynthia and the City: Will Cynthia Nixon’s Celebrity Past Get Her to The Governor’s Mansion?
MARSTON: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has a commanding lead over political newcomer Cynthia Nixon. That’s according to a NBC Marist poll released yesterday, which shows 68 percent of democrats in the state favor Cuomo. Nixon was at 21 percent. If you’re not familiar with Nixon, maybe this will help…
((Sex and the City theme music (0:04))
MCLENAGHAN: That’s the theme song from Sex and the City. Nixon starred in all six seasons. But with a TV star already in the White House, has celebrity appeal taken a hit? Reporter Augusta Anthony went to a Nixon fundraiser this week to find out.
ANTHONY 1: Christina Bobrowsky is the first guest to arrive at Cynthia Nixon’s campaign fundraiser on Tuesday evening.
Yeah, I’m so excited for her. Yes!
ANTHONY 2: The steel shutters are still pulled down over the facade of The Cutting Room, a music venue on 32nd street. Tickets went up to $21,000 dollars. Bobrowski paid $50 for hers. She’s an aspiring actress but says Nixon is more than an artistic inspiration.
A gay couple having children? Like that’s my idol.
What are the key policies that you want to see her carry out?
Yeah that’s one of them.
ANTHONY 3: Bobrowsky and other guests are excited for Nixon’s progressive platform. Many said they were Bernie supporters. It’s an affluent looking crowd, with Carrie Bradshaw high heels and men in suits. They’re unfazed by Nixon’s celebrity.
Politicians were always celebrities so now the lines are just blurred.
ANTHONY 4: Soon the shutters roll up to reveal a guitar perched jauntily in the window and a dark bar inside. 30 or so guests pile in. I’ve asked veteran campaign consultant Hank Sheinkopf to come along and he’s not impressed.
We’re outside a fancy venue, the fundraiser’s supposed to have started and there’s no line out the door…not a good sign. Carrie Bradshaw would not show up to this party and Miranda wouldn’t either.
ANTHONY 5: Sheinkopf knows New York politics. And says there are some political rules that even a celebrity can’t break.
Insurgents generally don’t win. It’s almost impossible to defeat an incumbent governor in a primary. Let’s go back and look at the history.
ANTHONY 6: Governor Cuomo’s last challenger got just 30% of the vote compared to Cuomo’s 60. Sheinkopf says being a celebrity won’t buck the trend and anyway, Nixon’s just not famous enough.
Nobody knows her! She thinks everybody knows her, if you have premium cable but absent that, who knows who she is?
ANTHONY 7: Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, Jerry Springer, Arnold Schwarzernegger: these celebrities were able to turn their star quality into political success. Henry Schafer ranks celebrities at the Q Scores Company. The last time he measured Nixon back in 2015, only a quarter of respondents knew who she was. And he says, her overall appeal is also low.
Let’s put it this way there’s something about her personality that seems to be limiting her likability.
ANTHONY 8: Schafer says even though President Trump had low ratings, he was able to cultivate a brand around his lavish lifestyle and extreme wealth. Barbara Perry is director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia. She agrees the Trump brand played a role in his election.
We don’t have royalty. American celebrities are our royalty and we not only make them into politicians but we also make our politicians into royalty.
ANTHONY 9: So, Perry says there will be voters that turnout just for Nixon’s glamour. But she says the interesting question in this election is whether Trump’s unpopularity will affect how New York voters see another celebrity candidate.
I don’t think people in this cycle will vote for someone just because they’re a celebrity.
ANTHONY 10: Kenneth Walsh is author of “Celebrity in Chief: a History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom.”
I think that President Trump has had such an effect on this notion we have of celebrity in politics and the celebrity factor that people are going to be paying attention now to very much what the candidates say.
ANTHONY 11: And back at the fundraiser, while many said they were there to hear Nixon’s politics, as she leaves some were busy calling her name.
((SOUND: “Cynthia, Cynthia” (0:02))
ANTHONY 12: And just wanted to get their DVDs signed. Augusta Anthony, Columbia Radio News.
CORRECTION: Christina Bobrowsky paid $100 for her ticket to the Nixon fundraiser, not $50 as stated in the piece.