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Democrats sweep statewide races, take control of Senate

Andrew Cuomo twitter feed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was awarded a third term in office by voters, who chose him by a wide margin over his opponents.

Cuomo, in a speech to supporters, said he hopes to “vindicate” the trust New Yorkers have placed in him by electing him to another four-year term. Cuomo promised a continuation of the policies he’s championed in his first eight years in office, including more progressive issues, like equality for women and strengthening unions.

But he also said he will continue his more fiscally conservative polices, like holding the line on taxes and state spending.

Cuomo said the state also has the largest number of private-sector jobs in its history and has businesses with “record profits.”

“We can raise all boats, together, and we are (doing that) in New York,” Cuomo said.

The governor focused much of his campaign on his opposition to President Donald Trump and Trump’s policies, and he continued that in his victory speech, at times addressing the president directly, saying New York is not “buying” what Trump is selling.

“Mr. President, you have underestimated the strength of America’s better angels,” Cuomo said to cheers. “Because at the end of the day, love is stronger than hate.”

While Cuomo won handily at the state level by over 1 million votes, less than 20,000 separated him from Molinaro in Erie County.

"I'm going to continue to work on breaking down barriers, to encourage people to find acceptance and to overcome the prejudice of low expectations - and I know that we can do that," Molinaro said. "Listen, New York is a place where dreams do come true."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who is also the Democratic Party chair, said no Governor has done more for Western New York in modern history.

"He has pledged $1 billion to Buffalo, then a Buffalo Billion 2 to Buffalo and Erie County and Western New York," Brown said.

Democrats swept the other statewide offices, with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul elected on a ticket with Cuomo, and New York City Public Advocate Tish James headed for a win for attorney general against Republican Keith Wofford. Incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli easily won another term.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wins her first election since being appointed to her seat in 2009.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand cruised to victory against her Republican opponent, Chele Farley, financial chair of the state Republican Party.

Appointed to the seat in 2009 when Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State, Gillibrand rose to prominence in the #MeToo movement last year when she was the first Democratic senator to publicly call for U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a friend and fellow Democrat, to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations. She has also focused attention on sexual assault and harassment in the military, the workplace and on college campuses.

Cuomo’s senior campaign adviser, Maggie Moran, said turnout was very strong, with numbers more closely resembling a presidential election than a midterm contest, and that benefited Democrats.

“By 2 o’clock (Tuesday), we’d already seen 100 percent of the turnout in 2014,” Moran said, “and that was across the board — African-Americans, Latinos, suburban women.”

Cuomo’s decisive win and his targeting of Trump is once again fueling speculation that he might run for president in 2020. The governor, in a debate during the Democratic primary, said he expects to serve out a full four-year term.

Democrats also were expected to retake the state Senate.

In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said, “The voters of New York state have spoken and they have elected a clear Democratic majority to the state Senate. While the results of some elections are still being determined, at least 32 Senate Democratic Conference members have already won election tonight.”

WBFO's Nick Lippa and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.