'Sex and the City' actress in uphill NY election fight

Cynthia Nixon wants to become the first woman and first openly gay governor of America's fourth most populous state, which leans Democrat but has upstate areas that voted for Donald Trump.

US actress Cynthia Nixon. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - Cynthia Nixon, the telegenic, left-leaning _Sex and the City _actress turned activist, faces the electoral battle of her life Thursday in her long-shot bid to unseat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The 52-year-old mother of three wants to become the first woman and first openly gay governor of America's fourth most populous state, which leans Democrat but has upstate areas that voted for Donald Trump.

But first she faces off against Cuomo (60) in the state's Democratic primary on Thursday. Turnout is usually notoriously low but polling stations open at 6:00 am and close at 9:00 pm.

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 New York and Boston.

"This is not a moment to sit on the sidelines. This is a moment to stand up and fight back," she told an election eve rally.

"It is hard to go up against the Cuomo machine and it takes an enormous amount of bravery, but we are tired of the status Cuomo," she added. "We know we can do better."

Yet she heads into Thursday's vote trailing Cuomo in every single demographic group, the governor leading 63-22%, up from 60-29% in late July, according to the latest poll from Siena College.

Cuomo, the son of a governor who married a daughter of Robert F Kennedy and had three children before they divorced, has traded hard on his own progressive record and outspent his competitor.

He also won a last-minute endorsement from rap star Nicki Minaj, who told her 20 million Twitter followers that New Yorkers should vote for the governor. "Spread the word. See you at the polls," she wrote.