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Primary Day: Voters Head To Polls Across New York State

Cynthia Nixon

The nominating contest was the latest test for candidates from the party's energized left wing as Democrats seek to regain control of the U.S. Congress and bolster their ranks in state governments across the country in November 6 elections.

Nixon has campaigned hard to the left, hoping to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries in congressional seats in places like NY and Boston. Supporters rallied to Nixon's defense by pointing to the shoddy basis of the mailer's accusations and the fact that Nixon - who is not herself Jewish - is raising two Jewish sons from a previous relationship.

In the state Senate, several progressive challengers are looking to knock off incumbent Democrats who used to caucus independently from mainline Democrats, allowing Republicans to have the majority in the chamber for the past decade.

Surveys show Cuomo is far ahead, but Nixon says the polls shouldn't be trusted. Politico's Laura Nahmias joins CBSN with more.

The race has turned increasingly bitter and expensive, as Cuomo has spent $18 million to Nixon's $1.6 million, according to state figures.

"It is hard to go up against the Cuomo machine and it takes an enormous amount of bravery, but we are exhausted of the status Cuomo", she added.

Her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer, also endorsed Cuomo.

Nixon has hit Cuomo hard on the crumbling subway, going after his more centrist credentials and for taking donations from Trump in the past, as well as his bevvy of corporate donors. The primary is scheduled for September 13. In a 2014 nominating contest, Cuomo defeated his opponent with fewer than 600,000 people voting out of almost 5.9 million registered Democrats in the state. Molinaro ran unopposed in New York's Republican primary, landing him the opportunity to attempt to become the state's first GOP governor since 2006.

The outcome of the Democratic primary that got underway Thursday will likely resonate around the nation, as it is a particularly high-profile example of the insurgent left-wing that is seeking to oust establishment incumbents who they say have failed to deliver on liberal promises.

Part of that reform includes paroling and expunging the records of New Yorkers who were convicted of smoking or selling pot and using tax revenues from a nascent (decriminalized) weed industry to invest in communities that have been ravaged by the decades-long war on drugs.

Results coming in Thursday night will show whether Nixon's liberal attacks on the centrist Cuomo resonated with voters in a season where left-leaning Democrats have won surprise victories.

Cynthia Nixon is sticking by her controversial bagel order.

"If it was all about name recognition", he said earlier this year, "then I'm hoping Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don't get into the race".