Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo cruised to re-election Tuesday night over Republican Rob Astorino in a nasty race that focused primarily on the incumbent's lengthy record and bruising style.
Cuomo led Astorino 57 percent to 38 percent with 43 percent of districts statewide reporting.
Cuomo, running with lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul, a former Buffalo congresswoman, used a three-pronged strategy in his bid for a second term. His game plan hinged on waiting until October to campaign, touting a few signature achievements and using his $45 million campaign war chest to aggressively attack Astorino as an "ultraconservative" who had no place in statewide office.
Cuomo, 56, emphasized a landmark property-tax cap, legalization of same-sex marriage, on-time state budgets and tax cuts. Cuomo also blunted his rival by agreeing to just one televised debate. With Cuomo never really threatened in the polls, his margin of victory appeared to be the only mystery in the race.
Cuomo's political future also rode on Tuesday night's outcome. He's been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016 if Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn't run.
"We chartered a course with two bearings," Cuomo told supporters at the Sheraton in midtown Manhattan. "We're going to return New York State to a state of fiscal stability and we were going to restore New York State as the progressive capital of the nation.
"We said we would not be pushed or pulled by the extreme forces on the left or the right. . . . We did what we said we were going to do and deliver for the people of this state."
Cuomo later brought out his father, Mario, who served as governor from 1983-94. Astorino, running with lieutenant governor candidate Chris Moss, the Chemung County sheriff, countered that Cuomo was all flash when it came to turning around New York's economy. Astorino noted frequently that the state is near the bottom in job growth rate.
Astorino, 47, also seized on the governor's tactics -- hitting him for allegedly interfering with an anti-corruption panel -- in an effort to brand Cuomo as a bully. In his concession, the Republican hinted at a future run and future success.
"We have not tilted at windmills in this campaign. We have planted a flag," Astorino said. "And we will be back to claim it, and advance it further."
The Republican portrayed himself as a pragmatic politician, saying he had won two terms as Westchester County executive by appealing to Democrats and minorities in the heavily Democratic county.
Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins hoped to peel off disaffected Democrats and opponents of natural gas drilling. He was running at 5 percent in early results, which would be the party's best showing ever.
Elsewhere in New York, Democrats were trying to hold on to all statewide elected offices while Republicans were seeking to defend their one bastion of power in state government, the State Senate.
State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat fighting for a second term, had a large lead over Republican John Cahill of Yonkers. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Great Neck Democrat, also was running well ahead of Republican Bob Antonacci of Syracuse.
Many Democrats down the homestretch cited an "enthusiasm gap" about Cuomo's re-election after he angered liberals with a fiscally conservative tax policy, teachers and state workers with new evaluations and zero-wage hike contracts, and other Democrats with his support of the Senate coalition -- which blocked "progressive" legislation, some contended.
In September, Cuomo found himself in a surprising Democratic primary against Fordham University professor Zephyr Teachout, who lost but captured half of the upstate counties and 34 percent of the vote statewide.
The day before the election, Cuomo said turnout would be an issue for Democrats. "I don't know what turnout is. I don't know what the Democratic malaise is," Cuomo said Monday after a Democratic Party rally in Albany.
But Cuomo dominated fundraising. He wrapped up many Republican donors early, along with big contributors from real estate and Wall Street, to build his war chest. As a result, Astorino relied on small donors to raise about $5 million and couldn't compete on the same advertising level.
Astorino tried to pick off pockets of voters by opposing the controversial Common Core academic standards and exams. Astorino also told upstate landowners he favored natural gas drilling and criticized the governor for shuttering and possibly interfering with an anti-corruption commission.
With Valerie Bauman and Laura Figueroa