Voters will be asked to rouse themselves from their relative apathy toward state politics and to head to the polls on Tuesday. They’ll be casting ballots for governor, state attorney general, comptroller, various state Assembly and Senate races, and three statewide ballot proposals. Most people outside policy and political circles probably haven’t paid much attention to the candidates, let alone the issues. So here’s a quick look at the top races and the key ballot proposals.
Cuomo battles criticism over handling of anti-corruption commission
After fending off a surprisingly spirited challenge by newcomer Zephyr Teachout during the Democratic primary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now faces little-known Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in the general election. Astorino has attempted to tar Cuomo’s reputation by hammering the governor over his handling of an anti-corruption commission, going so far as to say that a federal indictment might be handed down. Cuomo has deftly fought off the charges. Cuomo, for his part, has attacked Astorino’s record as lightweight and pegged him as an “ultraconservative.” An Oct. 8 Quinnipiac Poll showed Cuomo with a 51 to 31 percent lead over Astorino. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins polled at 9 percent.
Schneiderman dogged by complaints of ineffectiveness in attorney general’s race
Incumbent Democratic state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman faces a re-election challenge from Republican John Cahill. Schneiderman claims his record as attorney general shows he has successfully pressed for justice in cases involving financial, political and environmental corruption. However, some critics say he’s failed to leverage the power of the office as successfully as his predecessors, Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo. Cahill was chief of staff to former Gov. George Pataki and once led the Department of Environmental Conservation. Quinnipiac shows Schneiderman leading 46 to 34 percent.
DiNapoli seeks a second term as comptroller
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is fending off a challenge from Republican Bob Antonacci, the Ononddaga County controller. Given that the race has received scant media attention, it’s unlikely that Antonacci will have the name recognition to draw enough voters to a win. Quinnipiac showed DiNapoli leading Antonacci 56 to 28 percent. The comptroller is the state’s chief fiscal officer, charged with making sure that taxpayer money is used effectively.
An embattled Grimm fights to keep his 11th Congressional seat
Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm has been indicted on federal fraud charges as he seeks reelection. While he’s claimed he is innocent of the allegations, having a criminal case to shoulder while campaigning will certainly hobble him. This follows a spate of negative publicity in January when he threatened to throw a television news reporter from a balcony and break him in half “like a boy.” The reporter didn’t press charges, and Grimm apologized, but it certainly has shaped the public perception of the candidate. All of this bodes well for his main challenger: Democrat Domenic Recchia, a former City Councilman who held the finance chairmanship for several years but has been struggling to get noticed by voters. The 11th Congressional District includes Staten Island and south Brooklyn.
Statewide ballot proposals
Voters will be asked to decide three ballot proposals, perhaps the most controversial being a plan to create a new commission to redraw electoral maps every 10 years.
Given how obscure and complex the issue is, it’s unclear whether voters are educated enough to understand the proposal. It has also split good government groups, with some saying it doesn’t create truly independent redistricting process; others say it’s the best possible choice.
A second proposal would require bills before the state Legislature be distributed electronically, rather than on thousands of pages of paper, thereby saving money and trees.
A third proposal gives the state the authority to borrow up to $2 billion to modernize school classrooms. Critics say that by the time the money is paid off the technology will be outdated.
Where to vote and sample ballots
Find out where to vote by heading to the Board of Elections’ official poll locator and print out a sample ballot: nyc.pollsitelocator.com
Want to get to know all of your candidates before heading to the polls? Free resources include Who’s On The Ballot (whosontheballot.org) and the New York Campaign Finance Board’s official mobile app NYC Votes (nycvotes.org)