Cynthia Nixon Fights Back — Against ‘Sexist’ Debate Venue Temperatures

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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 Actress-turned-gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has laid out one very specific demand going into Wednesday’s televised debate with her primary opponent, New York’s incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo: she wants the temperature in the debate hall of Hofstra University on Long Island raised to 76 degrees for the event.

A top Nixon strategist, Rebecca Katz, reportedly emailed WCBS-TV ahead of the event, suggesting that a failure to agree to that particular temperature setting could be viewed as “sexist.” The New York Times, upon obtaining a copy of that email, reported, “Ms. Katz wrote that working conditions are ‘notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here’.”

But Nixon’s move may also have been a direct attempt to put Governor Cuomo on the defensive; he is well known for his preference of much cooler temperatures for his public appearance.

The New York Times reported in 2011 that Cuomo’s State of the State address was filled with attendees wearing their coats and hats throughout, in spite of the fact that the speech was given indoors. Some even noticed volunteers handing out blankets to older lawmakers due to the chilly conditions. One staffer told the Times on condition of anonymity that Cuomo prefers low temperatures for public events because more bodies in the room will heat up the space.

State Senator Diane J. Savino, Democrat of Staten Island remarked at the time, “My feet were like two blocks of ice. I actually think he would’ve gotten more applause for some of the things he said, but people were sitting on their hands to keep them warm.”

Cuomo’s camp says they do not know what the temperature will be at Wednesday’s debate — and Katz says that she has not yet heard back from WCBS-TV.

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