Clearly, much of the country is consumed by a mounting wave of fascination with the budding candidacy of Cynthia Nixon, the Sex and the City star who says she’s challenging incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York in the September Democratic primary.
Hardly anyone cares. Our Jazz Shaw is from New York, so he has an excuse for this interest. He’s written about Nixon’s candidacy (boy, that phrase brings back stale memories from the 70’s, doesn’t it?).
What intrigues us is this latest outburst of celebrity politics. It’s been around for a while in American politics but Donald Trump’s stunning upset gave it new life. Dwight Eisenhower already had a bright brand name in 1952 as the Supreme Allied Commander who conquered Nazidom, not to mention the divisive rivalries and personality clashes among the Allies.
Ronald Reagan had a couple decades of moviedom on his resume plus unquantifiable exposure as a host and salesman on TV. Then, two successful terms as governor of the most populous state.
It wasn’t surprising then that the Terminator announced his Golden State gubernatorial candidacy on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and won 1.5 terms.
Then, there’s the latest most compelling example of Donald Trump, another wealthy TV host who shattered the 2016 Republican field and expectations to become president and Twitterer in Chief.
Nixon has much less going for her. Name recognition? Check, at least in the Northeast. Media interest? Check. Gravitas? Uh, no. American voters love celebrity. And with the help of a smothering D.C. media every president becomes a celeb.
Can she turn Sex and the City into Sex and the State? Nixon retains celebrityhood, albeit aging, and the media will want her to do well. But she’ll need to display some state-level policy chops to bring to Albany, besides the predictable Northeast liberal lists of giveaways. Bringing up her stand on the #MeToo movement would fit that bill. Predictably, she’ll go for applause by knocking fellow New Yorker Trump.
So, how’s she setting out to do this? She’s taking the populist route that Trump put in political vogue. She’s done a long interview with Glamour magazine. She’s going on TV, of course, but working the less-expected venues for a political newcomer.
Today, she’s on The Cindy Williams Show, a nationally-syndicated, hour-long galfest that usually dishes on, well, celebrities and clothing. It reaches about 1.7 million nationally, mainly through Fox affiliates and BET on cable. It’s taped in New York City, which is handy.
“We win by getting her in front of voters,” said a Nixon spokeswoman, “because we actually want them to see the real Cynthia. And that’s what we get with Wendy. Her viewers are a large and crucial part of the electorate, and her show reaches all corners of the state.”
Her hosts will want to talk show biz and Sex’s seasons, although they ended over a decade ago. Almost any media exposure is good. But Nixon must learn in these opening weeks to steer the conversation eventually off sex to more meaningful subjects that might make New York Democrats take her as a serious choice over the scandal-tainted, two-term Cuomo.
And don’t forget endorsements. She’s already locked up her Sex co-stars Kristin Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker. But Henry Kissinger would seem a reach.