Senior administration officials say the governor’s recent activity has nothing to do with Ms. Nixon and everything to do with the state budget, due next week, where the governor is seeking to mobilize black support for some of the thorniest remaining issues, including on public housing and school funding. Mr. Cuomo has appeared at black churches during past budget seasons.
Mr. Miller, the pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, said that after he hung up with Mr. Cuomo’s team, he sent text messages to another 30 black pastors across New York City to ask that they not reflexively acquiesce. “I requested that they think carefully about hosting the governor until he becomes responsive to our concerns,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Cuomo has had a complex relationship with black leadership in the state dating back to his first failed run for governor, in 2002, when he challenged H. Carl McCall, then the state comptroller who was seeking to become New York’s first black governor, for the Democratic nomination.
But in recent years, black voters have provided him a bulwark of support. Mr. Cuomo’s last challenger, Zephyr Teachout, never penetrated Mr. Cuomo’s political standing in minority communities. She finished with an abysmal 14 percent of the vote in the Bronx.
“Clearly, Cynthia Nixon understands that if she can’t break through Andrew Cuomo’s African-American firewall, she has no shot at being competitive,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, a Cuomo ally.
Before she launched her campaign, Ms. Nixon gave a quick heads-up call to the Rev. Al Sharpton, the influential civil-rights leader and media figure. She also sat down privately with the Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., senior pastor at the 10,000-member First Corinthian Baptist Church in Central Harlem; she showed up to services unannounced the following Sunday. Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute and a longtime community activist, said Ms. Nixon also called her days before announcing a run to solicit her opinion.
The exact minute that Ms. Nixon announced her campaign on Twitter — 2:02 p.m. last Monday — she personally texted Elinor Tatum, the publisher and editor of the Amsterdam News, the historic black newspaper, to alert her to the news. Ms. Nixon granted her first sit-down interview to the paper.