New York Governor Andrew Cuomo cruises to re-election
Gov. Cuomo cruised to an easy re-election victory Tuesday, and immediately called his resounding win a repudiation of President Trump.
With 86 percent of election precincts reporting, Cuomo had 57 percent of the vote to 39 percent for his GOP rival, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
“I will work every day to vindicate the confidence of the people of the state of New York,” Cuomo said after taking the stage at the Sheraton Times Square shortly before 10 p.m.
“We understand that being progressive in New York is not a label or a symbol or an aspiration. It means getting the job done. It means helping people lead better lives and that is exactly what we have done in New York.”
As he did throughout the election campaign, Cuomo quickly turned his attention to Trump.
“Today’s election made clear that New York is not buying what president Trump is selling,” he said.
“We know his type too well. The president has defrauded this nation two years ago when he said he was for the middle class, and then he turned around the next day and gave a tax break to billionaires. And he raised taxes specifically targeted on New York. Well, fool me once, but in New York you don’t fool us twice.”
But in speaking for 10 minutes, the governor gave no hint about his agenda for the next four years.
Molinaro had a difficult time gaining traction against Cuomo, who branded him a “Trump mini-me” and who spent more than $30 million between the primary and the general-election campaigns.
Toward the end of his speech, Cuomo — who was joined on stage by his daughters and celebrity TV-chef girlfriend Sandra Lee — led his crowd of supporters in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The victory made Cuomo the sixth New York governor — among them his late father, Mario Cuomo — to win a third term in the past 100 years.
While he has insisted he’ll serve his full four-year term unless “God strikes me dead,” political observers say it wouldn’t require divine intervention to change Cuomo’s trajectory.
“Almost any elected official who has a 1-in-100 shot at becoming president strongly considers taking it,” said Democratic political strategist Evan Thies.
Whether Cuomo throws his hat into the 2020 presidential ring or chooses to focus on burnishing his legacy, political observers say he could kill two birds with one stone by focusing on infrastructure projects and issues important to middle-class New Yorkers, like access to higher education.
“You are going to be looking at this century’s reincarnation of Robert Moses, the great builder,” said Democratic consultant George Arzt.
He predicted Cuomo would take a “serious look” at running for president and devote much of his time in Albany to completing major economic-development projects he has already started — like the renovation of airports across the state and construction of the Moynihan Train Hall in Midtown.
“[His] legacy will be based on infrastructure improvements,” agreed political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “[But] he also will be under a lot of pressure to come up with a long-term plan to fix the New York City subway system and roads and bridges.”
Cuomo has been mired in a finger-pointing fight with Mayor de Blasio over how to pay for a plan to repair the city’s crumbling subway system, a project with an estimated cost of at least $37 billion.
While Cuomo took pains to get credit for the January 2017 completion of three stations on the long-awaited Second Avenue subway line on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, he later sought to dodge responsibility for the MTA’s woes by claiming he doesn’t control its board.
In fact, the governor has majority control of the panel and appoints its chairman.
Cuomo faces another challenge if the blue wave makes every branch of state government Democratic.
“With the state Senate likely to come under Democratic control, the governor will face an agenda that is, for him, further to the left on some issues,” said Thies. “Big changes to health care and the real-estate industry that the governor does not yet support will be on the legislative agenda.”
Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said a Democratic Senate could also breathe new life into the executive branch — pitfalls and all.
“Third terms are notoriously less productive than second terms, and seconds less so than firsts,” said Levy.
“But the advent of a Democratic Senate could inject a degree of energy as well as uncertainty — both in terms of being able to pass stuff that he once had no chance to and stopping stuff that may be too expensive or otherwise damaging to the state or party.”
The new power dynamic in Albany could alter Cuomo’s notoriously prickly relationship with de Blasio.
Asked about a potential fence-mending between the two leaders, City Comptroller Scott Stringer told The Post, “Hope springs eternal.”