By Catherina Gioino, Kenneth Lovett and Reuven Blau
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Cynthia Nixon and her campaign supporters are demanding Gov. Cuomo and the state's Democratic Party repent for a mailer emblazoned with her picture and the words "anti-Semitism."
"The mailers that Governor Cuomo and the NY State Democratic Party have sent out are not only an attack on my family, but on all New Yorkers," Nixon tweeted Sunday. "At a time when anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and other hate crimes are on the rise, it's sickening to exploit people's real fears like this."
The campaign literature was sent by the state Democratic party, which is controlled by Gov. Cuomo. It cost $11,000 to produce and print and was mailed to approximately 7,000 people, according to a party official.
"With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can't take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won't stand strong for our Jewish communities," the mailer's headline says.
It also argued that Nixon is "against funding for yeshivas," backs "BDS, the racist, xenophobic campaign to boycott Israel," and has been "silent on the rise of anti-Semitism."
Nixon called the mailer "deeply offensive" and demanded the Democratic Party send out a new mailing.
"To have me accused in such a blatant way is something that is so completely untrue and is deeply offensive to me," she said Sunday after addressing congregants inside St. Luke A.M.E. Church in Harlem.
As pressure mounted against the mailer, New York State Democratic committee executive Geoff Berman said the party would "work with the Nixon campaign to send out a mailing of their choosing to the same universe of people."
With the Democratic Primary set for Sept. 14, the party would likely give the Nixon campaign $11,000 to use in any way it wanted, a party insider said.
Cuomo said he did not approve the mailing or have any knowledge of it.
"I didn't know about the mailer," Cuomo told reporters Sunday.
"I instructed...the state party that they better figure out how this happened to make sure it doesn't happen again," he added.
De Blasio, who has close ties to Nixon but has not made a formal endorsement, wasn't buying it.
"A tweeted 'apology' calling it a 'mistake' is laughable," he tweeted. "The state party must compensate the Nixon campaign immediately.
"Democrats everywhere should unite behind the idea that state parties and the national party have no place in primaries," he added. "When state parties put their fingers on the scales, it weakens the power of the people. The grassroots will lead us back to power -- not party elites."
Berman said the mailers should not have gone out.
"Let me be very clear: This mailer was a mistake and is inappropriate and is not the tone the Democratic Party should set," he tweeted after the controversy erupted. "It will not happen again."
Nixon, who isn't Jewish, noted that her two oldest children with ex-husband Dann Mozes have strong Jewish ties.
"As a parent of Jewish children whose grandparents escaped from the Holocaust, to have this kind of smear thrown against me with absolutely no basis for political ends is deeply offensive," she said. "It's unconscionable and they should be ashamed."
She demanded to know who was behind the "offensive" mailer.
"To say 'sorry, we made a mistake' is not good enough," she told reporters.
"They need to send out fliers immediately and they need to correct this misinformation," she added.
She also didn't believe Cuomo and other party Democrats had no idea about the mailer.
"Of course they knew what they were doing!" she said. "How could they not know what they were doing? And if they did not know what they were doing, they should not have sent a flier out."
The former "Sex and the City" star is also an active member of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a LGBTQ synagogue in Chelsea.
The synagogue's rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, and her wife, teacher labor union leader Randi Weingarten, issued a statement on Facebook condemning the mailer.
"Cynthia is not anti Semite," they wrote. "It's a baseless lie."
Kleinbaum and Weingarten wrote that they had remained neutral in the primary for various reasons but were stunned to see it descend into such nastiness.
"We are both used to rough and tumble political advertising, particularly this close to Election Day, but this piece was beyond the pale," the two wrote.
They called it good news that the Cuomo campaign and the Democratic party renounced the mailers.
"Speaking as lifelong democrats, this is not who our party is -- using divisive and baseless smears to divide people and promote fear," Kleinbauma and Weingarten said. "While we have come to expect this kind of baseless smear from the GOP and from Trump, this is not who our country or our state or our party should be."
State Sen. Liz Krueger also called out the ad.
"As an elected Democrat in NYS and as a Jew, I am doubly offended and aghast that my party organization would produce and mail such a false, damaging attack on Ms. Nixon and then watch the Governor and key staff act surprised they had done this," she tweeted Sunday morning. "Shameful."
Krueger has not made an endorsement in the race.
With additional reporting by Byron Smith
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