BUFFALO, N.Y. – Cynthia Nixon thinks Andrew Cuomo was behind the refusal by two venues to host her campaign’s first stop in the state’s second-largest city.
The Democratic candidate for New York governor’s economic development discussion with local leaders originally was scheduled Wednesday at a Buffalo community centre, but Nixon was turned away after being told the venue couldn’t host political events.
After being turned away from a second venue, the “Sex and the City” star met with community leaders at Babeville, musician Ani DiFranco’s concert hall located in a refurbished church. Cuomo’s “power establishment” forced the venue changes, Nixon said after the round table discussion, which was closed to the media.
“I just want to say I’m here meeting with grassroots leaders and activists in Buffalo, and I guess that’s really threatening to the power establishment here,” Nixon said. “It shouldn’t be. It’s a democracy. I just want to talk.”
Nixon, a longtime activist on education and LGBT issues, announced March 19 that she was challenging the two-term incumbent in the Democratic primary.
Cuomo’s campaign denies he or anyone else associated with him was behind the venues’ rejecting Nixon’s event. His campaign leader, Lis Smith, tweeted: “First we’ve heard of it, but not the first Nixon to be paranoid!”
Nixon’s campaign said it had received approval earlier this week to host Wednesday morning’s meeting at the Olivencia Community Center and had agreed to pay for use of the venue. When campaign staffers arrived to set up, the centre’s operators told them they wouldn’t be allowed to hold the event there, Nixon’s campaign said.
A backup venue, the Delavan-Grider Community Center, was secured, but just minutes later the venue backed out, her campaign said. Nixon blamed political pressure from Cuomo’s circle for both rejections.
She said in a statement that Cuomo “is clearly scared of our campaign, and desperately wants me to go away.”
Candice Moppins, executive director at the Delavan-Grider centre, said the person who called to arrange to have the Nixon event there initially didn’t mention that it was for a political campaign or that it involved Nixon. As a not-for-profit organization, the venue isn’t allowed to host political events, Moppins said.
Cuomo has steered billions in state funds to Buffalo in recent years, including millions for community improvement projects, and the Buffalo Billion, his economic development initiative for the city. The plan is at the centre of an upcoming corruption trial involving a former Cuomo administration official and a Buffalo construction contractor.
“The money is going to people who are great contributors of the governor’s, and there is very little oversight,” Nixon said.