Election Day 2014: New York
Democratic incumbent Governor Cuomo and Republic challenger Rob Astorino both cast their votes today. Now it's up to New York voters to determine which gubernatorial candidate will come out on top.
A victory by Gov. Andrew Cuomo over Republican challenger Rob Astorino on Tuesday would make him the first Democratic governor since his father, Mario Cuomo, to win re-election in the nation's third-largest state.
Cuomo is believed to harbor national ambitions and has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, though he has said he intends to serve a full four-year term.
He has consistently led the lesser-known Astorino in the polls and enjoyed a nearly 10-to-1 fundraising advantage over the Westchester County executive in the campaign's final weeks.
Astorino has criticized Cuomo as an Albany insider who hadn't done enough for the economy, while Cuomo campaigned on his record over the past four years, including tax cuts, tighter gun control, legalization of gay marriage, reductions in government gridlock and a renewed focus on the upstate economy.
Cuomo and Astorino voted in Westchester on Tuesday morning.
At the governor's polling place in Mount Kisco, about 70 Cuomo supporters chanting "Four more years!" drowned out two dozen anti-hydraulic-fracturing protesters who shouted, "Ban fracking now!"
Cuomo arrived in a black SUV with his girlfriend, TV chef Sandra Lee.
"I feel good about the direction the state is headed in," Cuomo said after voting. He said "taxes are down for every New Yorker" and there are more private sector jobs than ever in New York.
"Are we bumping up against perfection? No," he said. "But I feel very good about the future of the state."
Astorino voted at Hawthorne Elementary School, situated in a modest, leafy neighborhood of single-family houses. With Astorino were his wife, Sheila, and their three children: Sean, 12, Kiley, 9, and Ashlin, 5, who carried a stuffed animal.
"Good morning everybody!" Astorino said. "Let's do it together, ready?" he said to Ashlin, who stayed by his side as he voted.
Other voters at Astorino's polling place said they voted for their local candidate.
Frank Ragusa, 26, and his mother Kim Luciano, 52, gave a thumbs-up to Astorino as he arrived.
"He's a good friend of ours, I trust him," Luciano said. "He goes to our parish," added Ragusa, wearing a leather New York Giants jacket.
Reginald Valentine Sr., a 70-year-old retiree voting in Manhattan, cited the New York SAFE Act, the gun-control law Cuomo signed in to law in January 2013, as one of the reasons he chose Cuomo. Also, Valentine said, "I liked his daddy."
But in Lackawanna in western New York, retired teacher Richard Edmonson, 74, said the SAFE Act was one of the reasons he voted for Astorino, even though Edmonson is a registered Democrat.
"The people that aren't supposed to have the guns are going to have the guns, and most people who have guns now, they're not criminals," he said.
Gay issues were key for Cuomo voter Chris Drago, 40, who works in marketing.
"I think he's done a good job over the last couple of years," Drago said. "He's been supportive of gay rights in New York state which has been really a good thing."
The 56-year-old Cuomo would begin his second term with a long list of challenges, including the implementation of a new medical marijuana law, a decision on whether to allow fracking for natural gas, and the selection of up to four new casino operators in upstate New York.
Liberals are expected to press Cuomo to make good on promises to push for a higher minimum wage, abortion rights protections and broad public campaign financing.
In the event of an Astorino upset, the Republican would likely face significant challenges in dealing with the state Assembly, led by longtime Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.
Cuomo's running mate, former U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul of Buffalo, faced off against Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss to replace Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, who is retiring.