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Capitol Watch: Andrew Cuomo, Cynthia Nixon notch endorsements

Capitol Watch: Andrew Cuomo, Cynthia Nixon notch endorsements

Syracuse Post-Standard, August 4, 2018

The winner will face Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in the November general election.

Nixon may be the choice of the Democratic Socialists, but it's Hawkins who has the backing of the Socialist Party USA.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- In New York state government news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and challenger Cynthia Nixon are racking up endorsements with less than six weeks left before the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, New York's Republican Party is suing the state's top ethics enforcement agency, alleging that it isn't doing its job when it comes to complaints involving Cuomo's administration.

A look at stories making news:

POPULARITY CONTEST: Cuomo and Nixon are aggressively courting the support of progressive groups and leading Democrats, hoping it will translate into votes come Sept. 13.

Cuomo has the nod of Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and powerful unions like the AFL-CIO.

Nixon, meanwhile, has been endorsed by liberal groups including Citizen Action, the New York Progressive Action Network, the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and Indivisible, a group founded to oppose Republican President Donald Trump. Nixon also has the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in a much-watched New York City congressional primary in June.

Polls give the two-term incumbent a commanding lead over the former "Sex and the City" star, who is trying to galvanize liberal mistrust of Cuomo.

The winner will face Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in the November general election.

Nixon may be the choice of the Democratic Socialists, but it's Hawkins who has the backing of the Socialist Party USA.

GOP VS JCOPE: The state's Republican Party is taking the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to court for allegedly going soft on Cuomo's administration.

Molinaro and state GOP chairman Ed Cox announced the suit last week. The suit is an attempt to force the commission to investigate and respond to complaints that Cuomo and a former top aide illegally used state resources for non-governmental purposes.

The first complaint, filed by the state party, alleges that former Cuomo insider Joe Percoco misused his office and telephone to do favors for Cuomo donors seeking state contracts. Percoco was convicted this year on federal bribery and fraud charges. The trial included testimony that Percoco continued to work out of his old state office after he was supposed to have left government to lead Cuomo's 2014 re-election campaign.

The second complaint, filed by Molinaro, alleges that Cuomo violated the law by holding political events at public schools.

Critics of JCOPE -- or JJOKE, as it is derisively called in Albany circles -- note that the commission's executive director is a former counsel in the governor's office and the third consecutive person to lead the commission with close professional ties to the governor. In addition, Cuomo appoints nearly half of the commission's members.

Cox said there's been no response from JCOPE to the ethics complaints.

"The body that is supposed to be ensuring the laws are upheld is in violation of their own rules," he said of the lawsuit against JCOPE. "It's unfortunate we've been forced to go this route but ... they have sadly demonstrated a disturbing pattern of doing the governor's dirty work by going after his enemies and protecting him and his friends. They are making a mockery of justice and it needs to stop."

A spokesman for JCOPE said it doesn't comment on pending litigation.

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