Cynthia Nixon, the left-leaning Sex and the City actress turned education activist, lost her dream of becoming New York governor on Thursday, trounced in the Democratic Party primary by the two-term incumbent.

Andrew Cuomo, 60, in office since 2011 and who commanded a huge war chest from powerful donors, batted aside her insurgent bid at 66-34 percent, US media projected not long after the polls closed.

The result puts him on course to win a third term as chief executive of America’s fourth most populous state, which leans heavily Democrat, in the general election on November 6.

The 52-year-old mother of three dived into the race in March, in a bid to become the first woman and first openly gay governor, demanding change and supporting a raft of left-of-centre hot-button issues.

She was one of a number of candidates hoping to shift the Democratic Party to the Left, capitalising on the rise of Bernie Sanders to usher in a new era of progressive politics to counter Donald Trump.

Ms Nixon campaigning with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new hero of the Left after ousting an incumbent Democrat for a Congressional seat in New YorkCredit:
Seth Wenig/AP

In her concession speech, she pointed to the way she had won concessions from Mr Cuomo, with a ban on plastic bags and fresh consideration of decriminalising marijuana.

"The generation coming of age in Obama and Trump’s America is one of the most progressive generations in history. And every day, more and more of you are turning 18 and registering to vote," she told her supporters in Brooklyn. "You are going to change America — and for the first time in our history create a nation that finally belongs to all of us."

Her supporters were sanguine in defeat.

"He is an experienced man and she is totally inexperienced," explained Cuomo voter Jack Buchanan, 87, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Bio | Cynthia Nixon

"We already have a totally inexperienced guy in the White House, so why put one in Albany?" he added in reference to the state capital and Mr Trump, who is hugely unpopular in the city.

"I don’t think she’s qualified," Nixon voter Jill Vexler told AFP in Union Square, confessing it had been "more of a sympathy vote."

"I don’t think she has enough strategy to get the money to do what she wants to do, but I do like what she wants to do."

Ms Nixon had hoped to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries for congressional seats in places like New York and Boston.

"To break through, that requires a lot of money and organisation," said Michael Miller, professor of political science at Barnard College. "A lot of people would be surprised if she did pull it off," he told AFP.

The final home stretch of the race degenerated into ugly spats. She denounced as a smear campaign a Democratic Party mailer that implied she was anti-Semitic, to which Cuomo pleaded ignorance.

Then she sailed into controversy and free column inches of her own with a bagel order that incensed almost everyone, an incongruous smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomatoes and capers – on a cinnamon and raisin bun.

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