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Cuomo wins re-election, easily defeating Molinaro
The Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, ran again to Cuomo's left. While the Green Party gained well over the 50,000 votes needed to maintain a ballot line in New York, Hawkins was not set to match his 5 percent showing in the 2014 elections. (As of 11:30 p.m., Hawkins had cleared 83,000 votes.)
By Chris Bragg
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo easily won re-election Tuesday evening in a campaign the Democrat framed throughout as a rebuke to President Donald J. Trump's presidency.
In keeping with that theme, Cuomo's acceptance speech never mentioned his Republican opponent, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, but instead delivered a scathing broadside against the president.
Democrats had more reason to celebrate as Letitia James was elected as the state's first African-American attorney general, and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli won re-election by equally wide margins.
Cuomo's election to a third term matches the number won by his late father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.
With two-thirds of precincts reporting at 11:30 p.m., Cuomo held 59 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Molinaro.
In his victory speech to supporters in New York City, Cuomo repeatedly slammed Trump and framed himself as a Democrat who not just espouses liberal ideology, but gets results ranging from the move to a $15 minimum wage to major infrastructure projects.
"Once again, New York State defines what it means to be the progressive capital of the nation," Cuomo said.
The 60-year-old incumbent easily defeated Molinaro and trio of minor-party candidates. With the easy victory in hand, speculation is likely to ramp up regarding a possible Cuomo presidential run in 2020, though Cuomo promised during the campaign to finish out another four-year term.
"The president said he would make America great again, but he doesn't understand what made America great in the first place," Cuomo told supporters on Tuesday. "At the end of the day, love is stronger than hate. It always has been and it always will be. And New Yorkers proved that once again tonight."
In his uphill bid to become the first Republican elected to statewide office in New York since 2002, the moderate Molinaro was dogged by the unpopularity of Trump in New York.
The 43-year-old tried to focus the race on problems during Cuomo's two terms as governor, such as the flailing New York City subway system, a struggling upstate economy and rampant corruption in state government. Cuomo cast Molinaro as a "Trump mini-me" and claimed he would not protect New Yorkers from either Trump or a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
The more than $100 million Cuomo has amassed from affluent donors over eight years — many of them with billions in business before his administration — allowed Cuomo to largely drown out Molinaro, who during this campaign raised about $2 million.
In his concession speech, Molinaro said that he had learned during the campaign that there was not just a divide between upstate and downstate New York, but also between the "inside" and "outside."
"I challenge Gov. Cuomo to work with all those New Yorkers who feel like they're on the outside looking in," Molinaro said.
Cuomo's running mate was Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who now has won a second term as the person second in line to the governorship.
In the race for state attorney general, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, a Democrat, became the first African-American elected to the office, as well as the first woman.
James, who won a contentious four-way Democratic primary in September, defeated bankruptcy lawyer Keith Wofford, who himself would have been the first black man elected to the office. By 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, James was leading Wofford 61-33 percent.
James had the crucial support of Cuomo, although it brought charges from opponents that she would not be sufficiently independent of the governor. James disputed that characterization and emphasized that she would use the office to stand up to Trump.
James will replace Barbara Underwood, who assumed the position after former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — considered a lock for reelection — was accused by multiple women of physical abuse in an explosive New Yorker article. Schneiderman resigned in May just hours after the article's publication.
In the race for state comptroller, Democrat Tom DiNapoli was easily elected to a third full term over Jonathan Trichter, a political consultant who only registered as a Republican as he sought the party's nomination this year. DiNapoli led by more than two to one (65-30 percent) by 11:30 p.m.
Cuomo has offered only limited detail on his plans for a third term, instead focusing his campaign on past accomplishments such as same-sex marriage legislation that passed in 2011 and, more recently, his push for the $15 minimum wage.
This year, Cuomo weathered the conviction of his longtime close friend and former top aide, Joseph Percoco. That trial unfolded as another sprawling corruption case led to the convictions of former close associates of Cuomo's in a bid-rigging case that tainted the State University of New York and Cuomo's signature "Buffalo Billion" initiative.
The Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, ran again to Cuomo's left. While the Green Party gained well over the 50,000 votes needed to maintain a ballot line in New York, Hawkins was not set to match his 5 percent showing in the 2014 elections. (As of 11:30 p.m., Hawkins had cleared 83,000 votes.) The Libertarian Party candidate, business consultant Larry Sharpe, cleared the same hurdle to give the party ballot status for the first time. (Sharpe had won more than 78,000 votes at the same hour.)
Stephanie Miner, the popular former Democratic mayor of Syracuse and one-time Cuomo ally, passed on challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She instead ran a quixotic independent bid on the line of a new, non-partisan political party, the Serve America Movement, and used her platform to critique Cuomo's economic development policies as favoring his big donors.
Miner, who like the other minor-party candidates was winning only a small share of the vote, said that it was her hope that Cuomo "uses his third term to fulfill promises made long ago: enact meaningful reforms to laws regarding ethics, campaign finance and voting. Now that the election is over, the governor must focus his economic development efforts on serving people, not donors."
It was still unclear Tuesday evening if Miner would get the 50,000 votes necessary to give the Serve America Movement a ballot line in New York.