Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly won re-election Tuesday night to a second term, handily defeating Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, his Republican closest rival.
That’s according to unofficial early projections from The Associated Press and other news outlets who based the estimates on exit polls. His reported win makes him the first Democratic governor to be re-elected since his father, Mario Cuomo, accomplished that feat in 1986.
“Our efforts were all about unifying people and growing the state,” the governor told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Manhattan, noting that his opponent called to concede. “While other states are putting up walls, we’re inviting people in.”
The 56-year-old Mount Kisco resident also drew votes on the Working Families Party, Women’s Equality Party and the Independence Party lines. Astorino, 47, who’s been county exec since 2003, also ran on the Conservative Party and Stop Common Core lines.
Cuomo’s lieutenant governor will be Kathy Hochul, a 56-year-old former Democratic Congresswoman from the Buffalo area, who joined the ticket after Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy declined to run again.
Throughout his campaign, Astorino said that Cuomo has made New York lose ground economically by perpetuating “the highest taxes in the country, the worst business climate and the most corrupt government.” He vowed to cut income taxes drastically, reduce state spending and stop the unfunded mandates from the state Legislature that drive up property taxes. But Astorino never could overcome polls that showed him consistently trailing the incumbent governor by a two-digit margin.
Cuomo drew support across party lines, as shown by Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s recent endorsement, not to mention bipartisan praise from state Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). As governor, Cuomo passed same sex marriage in New York, passed medical marijuana, ushered in the SAFE Act gun-control measure in wake of the Newtown massacre and approved a 2-percent property tax cap.
The next closest candidate on the night’s losing end was Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s nominee, who was making his second bid for governor. The 61-year-old Syracuse resident proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and making tuition free at CUNY and SUNY. He would have funded that initiative with a more progressive state income tax system.
Hawkins’ campaign was hoping to benefit from liberal voters disenchanted with the Cuomo administration’s centrist record who might have supported Zephyr Teachout’s third party bid on the Working Families Party line, until Cuomo out-maneuvered her at her party’s convention in the spring and gotten the WFP’s backing. In the September Democratic primary, Cuomo got almost 62 percent of the vote, and Teachout ended up with 34 percent. Both the Green Party and the WFP needed 50,000 votes minimum to retain their position on future ballots.
Astorino, in his concession speech, said: “We have planted a flag and we will be back to reclaim it and advance it further.”