Cynthia Nixon has pledged to do Governor Andrew Cuomo's job for free if she manages to unseat him.
In the short-answer portion of Wednesday night's first and only New York gubernatorial debate, CBS New York's Maurice DuBois asked Nixon if she would decline a $179,000 salary as governor, considering her reported wealth and self-declared democratic socialist leanings.
"Sure," she said. When DuBois asked if she would take a dollar, she added, "Maybe a dollar."
Cuomo spent much of the debate, which was held at Hofstra University, attempting to portray his challenger as a wealthy celebrity tied to corporate interests. Following her response, Cuomo pressed Nixon on her taxes, arguing that she doesn't pay her fair share.
Earlier in the night, Cuomo accused Nixon of being a "corporate donor," pointing out that she owns an S Corporation, a type of corporation she said is commonly owned by actors.
"You are a corporation,” Cuomo said.
“I am a person,” Nixon retorted.
Cuomo also cryptically mentioned Nixon advocating on the behalf of actor Sarah Jessica Parker and her "teahouse," suggesting Nixon has used her celebrity to selfishly influence politics in the past. (The "teahouse" comment, according to the New York Daily News, was a reference to a note Parker sent Nixon about a teashop in danger of losing its lease because of a crooked landlord, which Nixon then forwarded to Mayor Bill de Blasio.)
The two also argued over who was the most "corporate" contender in the race when the subject of President Donald Trump arose. Nixon contended that Cuomo is ill-suited to lead New York in resisting the president's agenda because Cuomo, like Trump, is "corrupt" and "corporate."
"When it comes to opposing Trump in New York State, we already have a corrupt corporate Republican in the White House—we don’t need a corrupt corporate Democrat in Albany as his main opposition," Nixon said.
"There's only one corporate Democrat on the stage, and it's my opponent," Cuomo remarked.
This election season, a number of progressive insurgents are distinguishing themselves from their opponents by vocally rejecting corporate donations. Some of them, like New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have already landed major upsets by painting entrenched politicians as heavily influenced by corporations.
Cuomo may be catching on, but Nixon isn't backing down.
"As governor, I will take a different approach to economic development by investing in our communities, not corporate executives," Nixon tweeted after Wednesday's debate. "I'm not backed by corporations. I'm backed by you."