Cynthia Nixon stopped by The Late Show on Wednesday to discuss her campaign to become New York’s Democratic candidate for governor, which has already caught significant press attention months before primary ballots will be cast.
Host Stephen Colbert started the conversation by joking about one of Nixon’s campaign refrains: “Why ‘Cynthia for New York’? Why not ‘Nixon for New York’?” he asked.
Nixon shot back with a zinger, saying that she wouldn’t mind using her last name despite its resemblance to former president Richard Nixon. “I would rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo,” she said.
Nixon is campaigning on a platform of reform from the policies of incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will be running for his third term as governor in the primary race in September. Nixon has also said that she wants to focus on improving education and healthcare for families of all incomes, improving New York City’s mass transit problems and ending mass incarceration.
When Colbert asked her why she was running, Nixon responded, “I’m running because I’m a lifelong New Yorker and I love this state and I just know we could do so much better. Because we’re a blue state, we’re a proudly democratic state and we’ve got a governor in there who governs like a Republican,” she said, mentioning that New York was lagging behind similarly Democratic states like California and Washington on campaign finance reform, voting reform and criminal justice reform. “We want to be closing racial and economic inequity here and we’re just not.”
Nixon argued that Cuomo “allowed Republicans to gerrymander their own districts” while in office and has generally acted as a centrist politician in order to “please big-money donors.”
When Colbert asked her whether she could be both an actress and a politician, Nixon name-dropped actress Glenda Jackson, who took a 25-year hiatus from her thespian career to serve in Parliament. And when he followed up with a question about whether stars should run for office at all, Nixon took pains to differentiate herself from President Donald Trump, painting herself as a self-made actress and Trump as a man who “inherited” his wealth and company.
“I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with stars in politics, it gives you a platform, but it’s what you do with that platform,” Nixon added.
Finally, while explaining her pro-marijuana legalization platform, Nixon revealed her own history with the substance. “I think it’s important to let people know that I’ve only smoked pot twice in my life,” she said, laughing. On a more serious note, she added that she was for marijuana legalization because she considered it an issue of racial justice, given that men of color are 10 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white men in New York City, according to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Nixon has already taken some heat for her campaign, with former New York City Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn infamously calling her an “unqualified lesbian,” a remark that Nixon has since lampooned in campaign speeches. THR’s own Stephen Galloway pleaded with Hollywood figures, including Nixon, in a March story that asked them not to run for political office.
Former Sex and the City co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall have endorsed Nixon’s bid, while Sex and the City and The Big C writer Jenny Bicks voiced her support in a story in The Hollywood Reporter, where she wrote “Cynthia Nixon would make a wonderful governor.”
New York’s primary race will be held Sep. 13.