By almost any measure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's leadership in his first term has been strong, pragmatic and successful.

Cuomo, 56, a Democrat, has delivered four straight on-time budgets. That hadn't been done in 40 years, and it matters greatly in the smooth operation of a huge state.

That first budget was deeply challenging, and Cuomo's methods in passing it set the tone for the term: generating popular support, projecting brute force toward his opponents and then, at crunchtime, making savvy deals to bring the players together.

Spending discipline, legalizing same-sex marriage, and passing the SAFE Act, a gun-safety measure that keeps firearms from criminals and the mentally ill, are highlights of his first term.

And the low points? They've often come when Cuomo faced highly idealistic issues. After the 2010 census, he promised to veto new maps for electoral districts not created by an independent commission, but he backed down, then supported a new redistricting system. That system is up for a referendum in Tuesday's election, and it isn't really an improvement.

In the next four years, Cuomo pledges to push campaign finance reform, improve access to voting and simplify ballots. He also needs to fight to end fusion voting, which allows one candidate to represent multiple parties on the ballot, and has led to five candidates for governor running on 10 lines in this election. Rejecting third-party lines himself in this year would have been a way to lead by example, and we are disappointed Cuomo chose not to.

His main opponent is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, 47, a Republican who's swung right on social issues and doesn't seem to disagree with Cuomo much on fiscal policy.

To have a successful second term, Cuomo must continue to support higher educational standards and teacher accountability. He must use the budget surplus for infrastructure projects that create jobs and invigorate the state.

Under Cuomo, New York has experienced remarkable success dealing with intractable problems. We believe the state will continue to do so in a second term.

amNewYork endorses Cuomo.