Anyone who’s ridden the subway in New York in the past decade knows that the city’s public transit system is in decay. As a city dweller myself for a few months, I witnessed it firsthand, and saw the frustration of those who use it every day.
So did Cynthia Nixon.
The actress of Sex and the City fame decided to challenge incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination in this past Thursday’s primary elections.
RACE CALL: Gov. Andrew Cuomo defeats Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary. Nixon remains on the Working Families Party line in November. pic.twitter.com/fZzdOSWncG
— Newswatch | ICTV (@ICTVNewswatch) September 14, 2018
While the results of the election weren’t good for Nixon, she was able to tap into the anger over the decrepit public transportation system in New York City. Transportation is a perennial issue in New York’s statewide elections, and this year’s contests were no exception. Nixon ran a transportation-centric campaign, complete with subway themed attack tweets against Cuomo.
New Yorkers: Tomorrow (Thursday) we’re going to some of New York City’s busiest subway stations from 7am to 9am in order to call out #CuomosMTA and address the urgent need to #FixOurSubway! We need you to show up and join us: https://t.co/mmxarstKmX. pic.twitter.com/TBHF2yzO4R
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) May 16, 2018
Her supporters joined in on the online criticism using the hashtag #CuomosMTA, a reference to the fact that the Governor appoints a majority of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency’s board.
— Bay🚙Ridge🚗Drivers (@BayRidgeDrivers) May 17, 2018
my girl @LauraFFeinstein waited 30 minutes at the Lorimer L stop as 3 trains passed that were too crowded for anyone to board. literally contorted herself to get on the 4th train. She missed a doctors appointment as a result of #CuomosMTA. but at least @CynthiaNixon was there. pic.twitter.com/QHLPRAXuIw
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) May 17, 2018
The day before the election, Nixon released her final campaign ad, which was totally focused on the subway.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) September 12, 2018
For his part, the Governor did highlight some transportation issues during his campaign. At the end of June, he announced over $57 million in new funding for upstate infrastructure projects. He also opened the second span of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, built to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge connecting the downstate Westchester and Rockland counties. Cuomo faced criticism for opening the bridge only a few days before Thursday’s primary, especially after the public opening had to be delayed because the old bridge was structurally unsound and could have crashed onto the new bridge.
This primary season exposed just how influential transportation issues can be in an election. Some angry New Yorkers were willing to send a first-time politician to Albany over a decaying subway system, while upstate voters rewarded an incumbent who supported infrastructure improvements in their areas.
Header photo: A train waits at a subway stop in Coney Island, Brooklyn (Creative Commons).