Actress turned political candidate Cynthia Nixon was Stephen Colbert’s first guest on Wednesday’s Late Show, and refuted any doubts people might have about her intentions. After announcing her run for governor of New York three weeks ago, Nixon has endured all the expected slights from those suggesting that celebrities have no place in politics. Including current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who joked that Nixon—a longtime activist for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and public schools, among other causes—was encouraged to run by—Vladimir Putin?
“I’d rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo,” said Nixon in reference to the politically “dubious nature” of her last name and Cuomo’s position as political legacy, showing, at least, that the former Sex & The City star has a better delivery in her putdowns. To Colbert’s delicately phrased questioning of her seriousness in challenging Cuomo for the Democratic nomination, Nixon was unflappable, running down her strong stances on everything from public education funding, to subway repair, criminal justice reform, to recreational marijuana legalization. She also criticized “centrist” Democrat Cuomo’s coziness with the state’s Republican leadership in what she termed “a proudly Democratic state.” Accusing Cuomo of governing “like a Republican,” to the extent of “allowing Republicans to gerrymander their own districts,” Nixon announced that, unlike Cuomo’s fealty to “big money donors,” she was “accepting no corporate money—zero,” to rousing applause from Colbert’s audience.
Pressing Nixon further, Colbert asked the actress (who is only one letter short of an EGOT, as it turns out) whether she was prepared to give up her acclaimed acting career in favor of the invariably exhausting grind of political office. In response, Nixon brought up the fact that she’s going to see Glenda Jackson on Broadway this week, pointing to the Oscar-winning actress’ 25-year hiatus from her own respected performing career in order to serve in the English Parliament. As to Colbert’s question whether Donald Trump’s disastrously farcical example puts the kibosh on any more celebrity politicians, Nixon, with the practiced smoothness of one who’s been asked that question at literally every press conference in her young campaign, drew a sharp contrast between Trump’s inherited wealth and career and her hardscrabble youth in a single-parent household, and as a lifelong New Yorker. With a decidedly not Trump-like career of working for people other than herself (and recent moves by Cuomo suggesting he’s feeling the heat from Nixon’s accelerating candidacy), Nixon asserted to Colbert, “I have the résumé that a progressive leader of New York should have right now.”