Former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon officially announced her campaign to become the Democratic candidate in the race for governor of New York, oh, let’s call it 24 hours ago, and already, there is a lot of strong public opinion about her bid.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) March 19, 2018
There’s a good mix of curiosity and excitement among many people, including Nixon’s SATC costar Kristin Davis, who already supports her longtime friend (“I know she would be an excellent governor,” Davis wrote in a supportive tweet). But there’s also been a lot of concern about Nixon’s qualifications and, perhaps most important of all, whether it’s OK for the public to get behind yet another celebrity campaigning for a seat in government when the results have historically been mixed.
One of the more outspoken critics of Nixon’s in the last day or so is former New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who had some rather terse words about Nixon’s campaign announcement on Monday. “I’m surprised by this race. It’s a flight of fancy on her part,” Quinn told the New York Post in an exclusive interview.
Of greater concern, though, is Quinn’s reasoning behind her fervent disapproval of Nixon’s foray into politics. While speaking with the Post, she seemed to conflate sexuality (both women have publicly come out; Quinn identifies as lesbian while Nixon identifies as bisexual) with the ability to run both a strong campaign and to do the job of governor properly, which is both rhetorically dangerous and is just plain disconcerting. “Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City. Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York. You have to be qualified and have experience. She isn’t qualified to be the governor,” she told the Post.
Quinn continued in this same interview with the Post, noting that not only is she an “unqualified lesbian,” but that her previous career as an actor doesn’t actually equate to her being ready for the duties of public service. “She’s an accomplished actress, a supporter of political causes and that’s a good thing,” Quinn noted. “Participating in rallies is important. But she’s never run an organization. Being an actress and celebrity doesn’t make you qualified for public office. This is a time to move away from celebrity and toward progressive leadership.” Quinn’s frank condemnation could be linked to, as People magazine points out, the fact that in 2013, Nixon publicly backed then-candidate Bill de Blasio for New York City mayor instead of Quinn.
For her part, Nixon rejected Quinn’s harsh words to the Post, stating that this campaign bid is not about “her being a lesbian and my being a lesbian” but rather that she wants to push back at “the corruption in Albany [the seat of New York’s state government]. It’s time for an outsider. I’m not an Albany insider.”
Quinn hopped on Twitter a short while after her interview with the Post went live attempting to smooth out some of her rougher comments from the piece. At the beginning of a four-tweet thread, she wrote, “To be clear, Cynthia Nixon’s identity has no bearing on her candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did. I want to be clear about that. I would never, EVER, criticize someone because of their identity.”
To be clear, Cynthia Nixon’s identity has no bearing on her candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did. I want to be clear about that. I would never, EVER, criticize someone because of their identity. 1/4
— Christine Quinn (@chriscquinn) March 20, 2018
Choosing to steer the narrative down a more sympathetic route, Quinn attempted to explain that as an out lesbian she understands the tough race ahead of Nixon. “I’ve experienced it time and time again, and would never support it or condone it. As a lesbian who ran one of the most high profile races in the country, I know what that’s like. And I know it’s imperative that we encourage more members of our community to run for office.”
I’ve experienced it time and time again, and would never support it or condone it. As a lesbian who ran one of the most high profile races in the country, i know what that’s like. And I know it’s imperative that we encourage more members of our community to run for office. 2/4
— Christine Quinn (@chriscquinn) March 20, 2018
Quinn’s totally right about one thing (despite having contributed to it in the first place): If the kind of criticism and concern Nixon faces focuses on her sexuality and the way she chooses to live her very happy, very settled personal life instead of her political stances on major issues facing the state of New York, then, yes, she has a long road ahead of her. But truly, Nixon doesn’t deserve to have her personal life, including her sexuality, thrown in her face or used against her. Whatever Quinn’s intended sentiment was and regardless of whether or not Nixon’s past lack of support fueled Quinn’s critiques, Nixon deserves a fair shot now.
What’s in the past should stay there, and for now, all we need focus on is what Nixon’s platform for this race is and whether or not it’s something worth voting for.