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NY Times Sept. 9, 2018
Dirty Politics in New York
A last-minute mailer from Democrats wrongly describing Cynthia Nixon as
anti-Semitic is a disgrace.
By The Editorial Board
This is dirty politics, nearly as sleazy as it gets.
Days before Mr. Cuomo’s primary race for re-election on Thursday, the
New York State Democratic Committee has sent voters a campaign mailer
falsely accusing his challenger, Cynthia Nixon, of being “silent on the
rise of anti-Semitism.”
It says she supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against
Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. She does not. It accuses Ms.
Nixon of opposing funding yeshivas, private religious schools attended
by many of the city’s Orthodox Jews. She has never said that.
“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance,”
the mailer reads. “Re-Elect Governor Andrew Cuomo.”
This is the lowest form of politics, and the most dangerous, exploiting
the festering wounds and fears along ethnic and religious lines.
“I didn’t know about the mailer,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference
Sunday in Manhattan. “I haven’t seen the mailer.”
Sorry, Mr. Cuomo, but that strains credulity.
Mr. Cuomo dominates the state Democratic Party. It acts ethically or
abominably at his direction, or at the very least, with his campaign’s
The committee no doubt sent this garbage in the cynical hope that it
would prove effective with Orthodox Jews, who generally vote as a bloc,
making them a sought-after constituency for New York politicians.
Geoff Berman, executive director of the state Democrats, said Saturday
on Twitter that the mailer was “a mistake and is inappropriate and is
not the tone the Democratic Party should set,” saying it wouldn’t happen
again. Sunday, he went further, saying the party would “work with the
Nixon campaign to send out a mailing of their choosing to the same
universe of people.”
Even if that were possible so late in the campaign, it’s not enough.
Mr. Cuomo has an obligation to personally apologize and condemn these
outrageous attacks. Voters deserve to hear Mr. Cuomo describe Ms. Nixon
as a worthy opponent who abhors anti-Semitism. He should make sure that
message gets to Orthodox voters ahead of Thursday’s elections. And he
should fire the party official who came up with the idea for the flier.
While Mr. Cuomo is at it, he might also mention that Ms. Nixon attends a
Manhattan synagogue. Saturday night, her rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, issued
a joint statement with her wife, the teachers’ union leader Randi
Weingarten, on Facebook, calling the charges in the mailer a “baseless
lie.” Other Democrats have also condemned Mr. Cuomo and the Democratic
Party for the flier.
State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat who hasn’t endorsed a candidate in
the primary, said in a statement released by the Nixon campaign on
Sunday: “I am doubly offended and aghast that my party organization
would produce and mail such a false, damaging attack on Ms. Nixon and
then watch the Governor and key staff act surprised they had done this.
Given all the ethical lapses in Mr. Cuomo’s administration, of which he
has also pleaded ignorance, this smear is appalling. It is the kind of
cynical behavior that detracts from Mr. Cuomo’s often-impressive ability
to govern. If he is not careful, it could make voters feel they have no
choice but to vote for someone else.
Mr. Cuomo deserves a third term because of his potential to lead. He
should stop squandering that potential now. To be sure of it, New York
Democrats need to turn out in large numbers on Thursday to support every
reform-driven candidate possible — for the Legislature, for attorney
general, even for party committees. They can teach Albany a lesson it
won’t soon forget.
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