New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) mocked the idea of actress Cynthia Nixon challenging him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on Wednesday, leading local New York anchors to warn him against writing off celebrity candidates.
NY1 first reported Tuesday that Nixon—known for her role on the HBO series "Sex and the City"—is poised to enter the race and battle Cuomo for the Democratic nomination. The network said Nixon is consulting operatives Rebecca Katz and Bill Hyers, who ran Bill de Blasio's successful mayoral campaign in 2013.
Asked on a conference call Wednesday whether he felt de Blasio, with whom he has frequently feuded, was behind Nixon's interest, Cuomo seemed to find the entire idea amusing.
"I think it was probably either the mayor of New York or Vladimir Putin. I’m going to leave it to you great investigative reporters to follow the facts and ferret out the truth," Cuomo said, laughing heartily. "Russian interference?"
"He cracked himself up," NY1 political anchor Errol Louis said after the clip played.
"So he's finding this to be a joke," NY1 anchor Roma Torre said. "It's not a joke."
"He treated it as a joke," Louis said.
Louis said Cuomo might have been better off not responding at all.
Later, Cuomo poked fun at the idea of Nixon running by quipping he hoped celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie didn't get in the race, if name recognition was as important as reporters suggested.
"Normally, name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor," Cuomo said. "But if it’s just about name recognition, I’m hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race. If it’s just about name recognition, that would really be a problem."
"Wow," Torre said after the clip played.
Louis and Torre mentioned the successful run of Donald Trump, who had no political experience prior to running for president, as well as the rise of former celebrities to high office like Ronald Reagan and Jesse Ventura.
"There are celebrities who do successfully run and win," Louis said. "I would just observe that a lot of their opponents from the professional political class start out very much like we heard Governor Cuomo doing today. Belittling, kind of laughing at them."