ALBANY — New York Republicans have not won a statewide race since 2002 — and the streak is not likely to end on Tuesday.
Gov. Cuomo is squaring off against Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Democratic New York City Public Advocate Letitia James is facing Republican corporate lawyer Keith Wofford, and state Democratic Controller Thomas DiNapoli is being challenged by Republican candidate Jonathan Trichter.
In each case, the Democrat has been leading by double-digits in the polls while Cuomo and DiNapoli have also stomped their opponents when it comes to fund-raising.
Also, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat seeking election to a second, full six-year term, is leading big over Republican challenger Chele Farley.
“It’s a snooze,” said Baruch public affairs professor Doug Muzzio of the statewide races. “In terms of excitement it’s plenty of zzzs.”
New figures released this week show there are now about 5.8 million registered Democrats in New York and 2.6 million Republicans.
In the last six months alone, the Dems added 158,000 new registered voters while the GOP gained just 1,435.
“New Yorkers witnessed historic turnout in the primary with 1.5 million voters showing up to elect Democrats up and down the ticket and we expect the blue wave to make landfall again on November 6,” said state Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman.
State GOP Chairman Ex Cox, though, is taking an optimistic approach that high Republican turnout upstate and the fact that about 500,000 Democrats voted against Cuomo in the Democratic primary could help the GOP win races.
After easily winning his primary contest with actress Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo, seeking a third term, has seemingly coasted during the general election against Molinaro. He has focused far more on President Trump and talking about flipping the House and state Senate to the Democrats.
He has dismissed talk of a possible 2020 presidential run while seeking to play up progressive accomplishments as the legalization of gay marriage, enactment of a tough gun control law, creation of a free-tuition program for some public college students, passage of a $15 hourly state minimum wage and creation of a statewide paid family leave program.
At the same time, Cuomo—who has spent more than $30 million combined in the primary and general elections — has boasted of reining in state spending increases to their lowest levels in decades, reducing taxes, and undertaking massive infrastructure projects like the building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
But the governor, who vowed in 2010 to clean up Albany, has been accused by critics of creating a “pay-to-play” culture that resulted in top aides, associates, and donors being convicted on federal corruption charges. Cuomo has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
He’s also been hit for his handling of the deteriorating subway system.
The governor during the campaign has provided little in the way of an expansive third-term agenda.
“The governor’s number one priority is fighting back against Washington and continuing to move New York forward,” Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said.
He has promised continuation of 2% caps on state spending hikes and on property tax increases, additional economic development investments, strengthening the state abortion laws, more gun safety measures, and campaign finance, voting, ethics and criminal justice reforms.
He also said he’ll push for congestion pricing to help fund subway repairs, passage of the Child Victims Act , and a strengthening of tenant protections.
For Molinaro, who trails badly in the polls, the race has been an uphill climb, as he has had trouble raising money to get his message out while Cuomo spent millions and tarred him as a “Trump mini-me.”
Molinaro has promised to lower property taxes nearly 30% over five years and to tackle corruption.
“I think this is perhaps the last opportunity for New York to get it right, for us to finally have a governor who respects the people he serves and for us to engage in a real course correction to make New York more affordable and end the corruption.”
Recognizing the colossal challenge, the Republican has taken to wearing a pin and a T-shirt featuring cartoon character Underdog.
Also on the ticket are three minor party candidates: Howie Hawkins of the Green party, Larry Sharpe of the Libertarian party, and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner of the newly created Save America Movement party.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE:
No matter who wins the race for attorney general, history will be made. Wofford and James both would become the first black person elected to the office.
James would also be the state’s first elected female AG. Current Attorney General Barbara Underwood was appointed to the position by the Legislature after two-term Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman abruptly resigned in May after a report he physically assaulted four women.
Polls showed the battle is the closest of the statewide races, though James has had a double-digit lead.
James has vowed to continue the office’s aggressive stance against Trump. Under Schneiderman and Underwood, the office filed more than 100 actions against the President and his administration.
She has repeatedly sought to contrast her experience as public advocate, a city councilwoman, and public defender with that of Wofford, who is co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s New York office and a first-time candidate.
“All of my life I’ve represented the powerless,” James said at a recent debate. “Mr. Wofford, all of your life you have represented the powerful.”
Wofford says he grew up in a poor section of Buffalo before graduating from Harvard. He said he will fully divest himself from his lawfirm if elected.
And while Wofford has said he would go after Trump if appropriate, his main focus would be on using the office to more aggressively go after state government corruption.
He has accused James of often filing baseless lawsuits for the publicity and attacked her for being too close to powerful Democrats like Cuomo, who backed her.
STATE CONTROLLER RACE:
DiNapoli is seeking election to a third full term after the Legislature in 2007 elevated him to controller after Alan Hevesi resigned in disgrace one month into his new term.
Even as he recognizes his race is a low-profile affair, he cites critical audits of the MTA and various state agencies as well as his stewardship of a pension fund that now totals more than $200 billion.
Trichter, a little-known former Democratic operative who did not raise much money in the first race of his own, has ripped DiNapoli’s performance and competence.
He has knocked DiNapoli for not being aggressive enough with his audits, underperforming as the sole trustee of the pension fund, and for being part of secret sex harassment settlements that paid off legislative aides of the late Assemblyman Vito Lopez — all contentions the controller denies.