‘Sex and the City’ actress defeated in NY election

Nixon had hoped to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries for congressional seats in places like New York and Boston. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2018
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‘Sex and the City’ actress defeated in NY election

  • Nixon headed into Thursday’s vote trailing Cuomo in every single demographic group
  • Said to harbor presidential ambitions, Cuomo is a long-time political operator who served as a cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton at the tender age of 39

NEW YORK: Cynthia Nixon, the left-leaning “Sex and the City” actress turned education activist, lost her dream of becoming New York governor Thursday, trounced in the Democratic Party primary by the two-term incumbent.
Andrew Cuomo, 60, in office since 2011 and who commanded a huge war chest from powerful donors, batted aside her insurgent bid at 66-34 percent, US media projected not long after the polls closed.
The result puts him on course to win a third term as chief executive of America’s fourth most populous state, which leans heavily Democrat, in the general election on November 6.
The 52-year-old mother of three dived into the race in March, in a bid to become the first woman and first openly gay governor, demanding change and supporting a raft of left-of-center hot-button issues.
Neither Cuomo nor Nixon made any immediate public comment after US media called the race.
Lower down the ticket, the candidate Nixon endorsed as lieutenant governor, Jumaane Williams, a 42-year-old city councilman from Brooklyn, was narrowly ahead of incumbent Kathy Hochul in a race that was considered too close to call by US media.
“He is an experienced man and she is totally inexperienced,” explained Cuomo voter Jack Buchanan, 87, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
“We already have a totally inexperienced guy in the White House, so why put one in Albany?” he added in reference to the state capital and President Donald Trump, who is hugely unpopular in the city.
“I don’t think she’s qualified,” Nixon voter Jill Vexler told AFP in Union Square, confessing it had been “more of a sympathy vote.”
“I don’t think she has enough strategy to get the money to do what she wants to do, but I do like what she wants to do.”
Nixon had hoped to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries for congressional seats in places like New York and Boston.
The public school advocate and LGBT activist campaigned hard for universal health care, rent controls and fixing the decrepit subway.
Yet she headed into Thursday’s vote trailing Cuomo in every single demographic group, the governor leading 63-22 percent, up from 60-29 percent in late July, according to the latest poll from Siena College.
Winning state-wide is a much tougher gambit than a congressional seat, especially for a first-timer up against the well-oiled and well-funded machinery of a sitting governor.
“To break through, that requires a lot of money and organization,” said Michael Miller, professor of political science at Barnard College. “A lot of people would be surprised if she did pull it off,” he told AFP.
Cuomo, the son of a governor who married a daughter of Robert F Kennedy and had three children before they divorced, traded hard on his record on gun control, gay marriage and the minimum wage.
Said to harbor presidential ambitions, he is a long-time political operator who served as a cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton at the tender age of 39.
“Andrew Cuomo has outspent us 10 to one which says to me that he is really scared,” Nixon told supporters in Union Square earlier on Thursday, where queues formed to take a picture with her.
“Our voters are really pumped to get out and vote today and to get everybody they know out to vote, and in the end that’s what counts.”
The final home stretch of the race degenerated into ugly spats. She denounced as a smear campaign a Democratic Party mailer that implied she was anti-Semitic, to which Cuomo pleaded ignorance.
Then she sailed into controversy and free column inches of her own with a bagel order that incensed almost everyone, an incongruous lox, cream cheese, tomatoes and capers — on a cinnamon and raisin bun.


Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

Updated 22 February 2019
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Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

  • Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama ‘Empire,’ went from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month
  • Smollett accused of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions

CHICAGO: An American TV actor was criminally charged Thursday for allegedly masterminding an elaborate “publicity stunt” that sought to exploit the “pain and anger of racism” with a staged assault on the streets of Chicago.

It was the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has seen 36-year-old Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama “Empire,” go from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month.

An incredulous Chicago police chief accused Smollett of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions, because he was allegedly “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In a sign of the national attention the case has drawn, President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, taking issue with the fact Smollett claimed his assailants invoked the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan along with racist slurs during the purported attack.

“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told an emotionally-charged news conference — during which he lashed out angrily at the actor for sullying the city’s image.

“Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” he said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning, was arrested and charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and was granted $100,000 bond.

He was freed from jail late in the afternoon, and said nothing to the throng of media. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

His legal team pushed back hard later Thursday, claiming the police press conference had been prejudicial and “the presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon.”

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” attorney Jack Prior told AFP in a statement.

“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Smollett had claimed that two masked men beat him late at night in downtown Chicago, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck — but police grew suspicious of his account after they failed to corroborate it.

Trump took aim at the actor for having tarnished his supporters, tweeting: “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?“

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, which produce “Empire” and had stood by the actor, said “we understand the seriousness of this matter” and “are considering our options.”

Authorities said the two men who staged the attack with Smollett were brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who have both previously worked on “Empire,” and were acquaintances of the actor — while one provided him with drugs.

The brothers have cooperated with police since their arrest late last week and have not been charged with a crime.

Smollett allegedly first concocted a false threatening letter he had sent to himself — which is under a separate FBI investigation — and when that did not get enough attention, paid the brothers to have the assault staged.

Prosecutor Risa Lanier detailed an elaborate plot that Smollett allegedly orchestrated with exacting detail — telling the brothers when and how to attack him, including pointing out a street camera he assumed would capture the event, but was in fact pointing in a different direction.

The allegations were backed by a mountain of evidence, including a cashed check that Smollett wrote to pay for the stunt, authorities said.

Initial news of Smollett’s claims led to widespread condemnation and shock, and an outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians alike, including Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris who denounced “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Trump initially described the alleged attack as “horrible.”

Since then, Smollett’s story has become a cautionary tale in an era where incomplete information is quickly spread via social media.

Opinion writers have complained about a rush to judgment, and politicians, celebrities and nonprofit groups have felt pressure to explain their initial reactions.

The president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the Smollett news was “both devastating and frustrating.”

“I want to ask everyone feeling angry, hurt and disappointed to channel that into productive activism — because there are thousands targeted by hate violence each year who need our help,” Chad Griffin tweeted.