Pro-Charter And Education Reform Group Says Its A Counterbalance To NYSUT

A group supportive of charter schools and education reform that backed Republicans in key state Senate races spent $4.2 million on advertising, mail and GOTV to help give the GOP conference full control of the chamber.

In a memo from Students First NY, the group touts its involvement in seven battleground districts across the state, with a half-dozen contests ultimately being won by Republicans.

The group funded TV, radio and digital ads, as well as a mailer campaign, through an independent expenditure committee, New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany.

The independent expenditure effort was heavily supported by charter school supporters like Paul Singer, a wealthy hedge-fund manager and investor who supports charter school expansion, as well Daniel Loeb, a director at Success Academy and Dan Senor, a former Bush administration official who is married to former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, a critic of teacher tenure.

Other donors to the effort included Paul Tudor Jones II and businessman Carl Icahn.

In the memo today, Students First says its spending was aimed at counterbalancing the campaign work from the New York State United Teachers union, which also spent heavily in hotly contested races.

“For years NYSUT has been the only game in town, but we stood up to them and won,” the memo says.

The group also notes in the memorandum the the millions spent through IE campaign on the state Senate was the most “of any outside group other than the teachers’ union.”

And the group plans some permanency when it comes to the state Legislature.

“We will continue to make targeted investments to ensure that the needs of students are put ahead of the special interests,” the memo says.

Students First says it spent the most money in the 40th Senate district, which lies in the costly New York City media market. The district is being vacated by Republican Sen. Greg Ball, but Democrats, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, sent resources to boost Democrat Justin Wagner, who lost to Republican Terrence Murphy.

The only loss for the group was in Buffalo, where Democrat Marc Panepinto won a four-way race, unseating Sen. Mark Grisanti.

Students First pins the blame on NYSUT’s efforts to criticize Grisanti.

“Ultimately, their smear campaign allowed them to defeat the last Republican who voted for marriage equality and gun safety, replacing him with Senator-elect Panepinto, who was convicted of election fraud a few years ago,” the memo says, referring to a 13-year-old case.

NYBA memo by Nick Reisman

Cuomo’s Upstate Losses

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election victory did not come with help from large swaths of the upstate region.

Cuomo managed to win in Democratic strongholds like Albany and Tompkins counties and in Erie County, where he has focused heavily on with economic-development aid over the last four years.

But north of New York City, Cuomo only won 11 counties, including the northern suburbs, three North Country counties along with Broome and Onondaga counties.

Cuomo lost Monroe County, where Democratic losses were especially heavy: Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien lost re-election, while U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter ended the evening with a too-close-to-call race.

Republican candidate Rob Astorino had concentrated heavily on upstate and especially opposition to the SAFE Act, Cuomo’s gun control law of 2013.

Today, Astorino supporters are pointing to SAFE Act opposition in part for the GOP ticket’s success.

“I think clearly it was an anti-SAFE Act vote upstate,” said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin. “In my district, Chris Gibson’s district, Kathy Marchione, we delivered very strongly for Rob. Had Rob gotten the results in Rensselaer County, he’d be governor-elect right now. I wish that we had had just a gigantic turnout all across upstate.”

As The Buffalo News pointed out, Cuomo received the lowest number of votes for a New York governor since Franklin Roosevelt. At this point, it appears that Democratic Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was the top vote-getter of the evening, receiving some 2 million votes, compared to Cuomo’s 1.9 million.

Cuomo ultimately received about 54 percent of the vote to Astorino’s 40.6 percent.

Earlier this week, the governor offered some pre-election spin of his own on what the results would mean.

Cuomo said he expected voters to register their concerns on hydrofracking — a controversial natural gas drilling process he has not made a decision on for now — and Common Core. He did not mention the SAFE Act as a possible motivating factor.

“There are proxies for those positions and I see the candidates more relevant as proxies for those positions more so than their own right,” Cuomo said. “I think that’s the dynamic for the election. I don’t think it’s about coattails. People are going to vote fracking, they’re going to vote Common Core, they’re going to vote how they feel about the national economy, they’re going to vote about how they feel about the state over the last four years.”

Still, the results were similar to September’s primary, when Cuomo did well in the downstate region, but lost upstate counties to Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor.

Cuomo at the time blamed the losses on dissatisfaction from hydrofracking opponents and the public-employee union members.

Update In NY-25

Last night’s big surprise was the near upset in NY-25, where little known Republican Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini was within 605 votes of toppling 14-term veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Our colleagues at TWC News Rochester tell us there are 3,300 absentee ballots, which does include the hand count ballots (military ballots submitted online, then subsequently printed out and mailed in).

Local elections officials counted about 2,500 of the 3,300 absentees last night, but those votes were NOT included in the unofficial total.

Also, there are roughly 2,100 ballots that will be released today that were secured as part of the 55th SD race – the one in which Republican Rich Funke defeated Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien – which is inside NY-25. Those ballots will be counted today. O’Brien’s campaign successfully sought an impoundment order that prevented those ballots from being counted last night.

So, all told there are roughly 5,400 ballots outstanding that once all of them have been counted, reviewed and verified, will eventually be added to the final voter turnout results. This process could be completed by the end of the week. UPDATE: We’re now told that most of the absentee ballots will be opened at 2 p.m. today, and the counting will start at 4 p.m.

Slaughter last night insisted she is the winner in NY-25, and she remained unconcerned by both her slim lead and the several thousand votes that are yet uncounted.

Assini refused to concede the race. Observers attributed his stronger than expected performance to a wave of anti-incumbent (especially Democratic incumbents) sentiment that swept the nation yesterday and helped Republicans both expand their majority in the House and re-take control of the US Senate.

While insiders and observers were surprised by the strength of Assini’s campaign, he did not seem at all taken aback by it, saying: “I knew, but I don’t think the other side knew it until the end. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of heart and a lot of people supporting us, and the voters gave me a chance.”

Two years ago, after NY-25′s district lines were redrawn to include all of Monroe County, Slaughter was faced her strongest challenge in decades from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, a Republican whose name recognition in her base equals that of the veteran congresswoman.

Millions of dollars were spent on that race, Slaughter won handily with 57 percent of the vote. This year, the nonpartisan Cook Political Reports rated the district as one of 161 solidly Democratic House seats around the nation.

Hayworth Concedes In NY-18

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s campaign announced that the Democratic congressman’s Republican opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, has conceded the NY-18 race.

It’s Hayworth’s second loss in a row to Maloney. He also defeated her in a close race two years ago when she was the incumbent and her was the upstart challenger, bouyed by a boost in turnout in a presidential election year.

Since then, Maloney has focused on building a record as a pragmatist who is willing to both vote against his party when necessary and reach across the aisle to work with Republicans to get things done. A number of Republican elected officials – including state Sen. Bill Larkin, a veteran GOP lawmaker and well-respected military veteran – crossed party lines this year to endorse Maloney.

(To be fair, Hayworth had her share of party line-crossing Democratic endorsers – most notably Gwen Johnson, an African-American Dutchess County legislator from the city of Poughkeepsie. Johnson appeared in an ad for Hayworth during the campaign and also attended her election night watch party).

Polls showed the NY-18 battle would be a tight one heading into yesterday, with both sides – and their respective outside supporters – spending millions of dollars on TV ads and mailers (many of the negative) in an effort to influence the outcome.

Hayworth had an early win when she defeated Maloney in a very low turnout September primary for the Independence Party line. A SoP reader who has been keeping track of votes in the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County said it looks like the support for the congressman by one of the village’s two political factions netted him about 5,000 votes (in other words, more than Maloney’s margin of victory – this number has been fixed).

Maloney declared victory last night after the initial count showed him leading Hayworth by 2,790 votes, but the former congressmanwoman initially refused to concede. Maloney scheduled a noon press conference today to discuss his win, but the event was moved back to 12:45 p.m. The congressman’s campaign confirmed Hayworth’s call was the reason behind the delay.

Despite New York’s Democratic voter enrollment edge, there were a number of contested congressional contests both this year and in 2012 – thanks to the slightly less gerrymandered redistricting map created by a court and not state lawmakers. Republicans have picked up three seats here - Long Island’s NY-1, where state Sen. Lee Zeldin ousted Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop; Central New York’s NY-24, where former federal prosecutor John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei; and the North Country’s NY-21, where Elise Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to the House.

Three seats is the biggest one-state pick-up the House GOP accomplished as it easily retained control of the majority and expanded its reach, wining 14 seats – and counting. There might be another upset win here in New York, too, if Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini defeats veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in Monroe County’s NY-25 in what’s currently a too-close-to-call race.

The GOP’s success in the home state of DCCC Chair Steve Israel is a pretty big embarrassment to the Long Island congressman.

Democrats Had A Silver Lining Last Night (Updated)

Republicans did quite well at the state Senate and Congressional level on Election Day.

But despite the bad night for Democrats, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s majority in the chamber grew last night.

Democrats were able to flip and hold multiple seats, growing their large advantage over Republicans in the chamber.

The conference began with 98 seats in the Assembly. With last night’s results, Assembly Democrats are due to grow their majority to at least 106 seats. There were previously 11 vacancies and five incumbents in the Assembly chose to not run for re-election.

There are two races that are still undecided and going to paper: Assemblywoman Addie Russell.

The 98th Assembly district, a race between Democrat Elisa Tutini and Republican Karl Brabenec remains too close to call as well (the seat was held by Republican Annie Rabbitt, now the Orange County clerk).

The good news for Assembly Democrats is also a little a-historical: The last midterm Republican wave, in 2010, the party lost 11 seats.

It also comes after a series of sexual harassment scandals marred the Assembly, with Democratic lawmakers including Dennis Gabryszak, Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner all coming under scrutiny for harassing legislative staffers.

Of the three, only Kellner remains in office, but he did not run for re-election.

Republicans at all levels this election cycle sought to make an issue out of the harassment scandals, but to little avail, especially on the statewide level.

But the Democratic pickups are good news for Silver, soon to be the longest-serving speaker in the chamber.

It was only a few years ago that the scandals in the Assembly led to rumors Silver was about to be ousted by his colleagues. The talk has subsided, and rekindling of it barring another scandal seems highly unlikely.

Updated: Republicans in the Assembly dispute some of the total last night. They expect to return with at least 43 members and as many as 45. If Republicans are able to win and hold 45 seats, the Assembly Democrats would have 105.

State Senate, TBD

There was significantly less drama than expected last night over who controls the state Senate.

In the end, Republicans emerged from Election Day with a clear majority: 32 GOP lawmakers, plus Simcha Felder in Brooklyn gives them 33.

On paper, they do not need to cut a deal with the Independent Democratic Conference to hold on to power like they did two years ago upon falling into the minority.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, due to receive the title of majority leader in full once again come January, wouldn’t say what the plan is for IDC Leader Jeff Klein and his five-member conference.

“I haven’t spoken to Jeff,” Skelos said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom this morning. “I think he’s going to the Somos conference… when he comes back we’ll chat.”

Asked if he’s open to keeping the IDC-GOP coalition alive, Skelos demurred.

“Bipartisanship has been all of us working together, including the IDC,” he said.

Klein on Monday moved away from forming a new coalition with the mainline conference of Democrats, declaring that “things have changed” since an agreement to do so was reached back in June (that includes primary challengers continuing to press on despite a ceasefire).

“I’m a Democrat, I want to elect Democrats, but when the dust settles it’s incumbent on us to work together,” Klein said, adding: “I think it’s premature to say what anyone is going to do until the dust settles.”

Under the current arrangement, Klein and Skelos both hold the title of Senate co-president.

Both conference leaders have to agree to which bills come to the floor for a vote.

With 33 seats on the Republican side of the chamber, it seems highly unlikely this will continue.

But some form of an IDC and Republican alliance still be needed.

While Republicans are generally known for keeping their lawmakers as a single bloc of votes on key legislation, any number of factors could keep majority party senators from attending session in Albany.

Sen. Tom Libous is ill with a recurrence of cancer. Two Republican senators are in their 80s.

The blueprint is there for a coalition similar to what was created in 2011, when Klein and the IDC first formed their breakaway conference. It wasn’t an official alliance, but allowed the IDC to wait in the wings should the Republicans fall out of power.

For Klein the gamble is a simple one: Form an alliance with Democrats in the minority or risk the wrath of primary voters once again and align himself with Republicans.

In two short years, another presidential election is around the corner, and more Democrats will likely come out to vote.

Election Day Winners

From the Morning Memo:

- Gov. Andrew Cuomo

It may not have been the landslide he was hoping for, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo enjoyed a relatively early night.

As expected, Cuomo was re-elected to a second term, along side his fellow statewide Democrats, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Cuomo received about 54 percent of the vote compared to Republican Rob Astorino’s 40 percent — a somewhat better showing than what was expected for the Westchester County executive.

Still, Cuomo won.

He won despite discontent from liberals, angered over his economic policies they say favor the rich at the expense of the poor.

He won despite alienating the labor-backed Working Families Party with his newly formed Women’s Equality Party, seen as a rival to preserving the WFP’s ballot space.

He won despite having a cool relationship with powerful public employee and teachers unions, which chose to not endorse him or, in some cases, back his primary challenger.

He won despite a Republican wave in state Senate, in Congressional districts in the suburbs and upstate as well as across the country.

He won despite upstate anger over his gun control law that has become a rallying cry for Second Amendment advocates.

He won despite a reputation for being something of a bully with everyone he comes into contact with, for using an anti-corruption commission to exact leverage over the state Legislature and a federal investigation over that involvement.

So, how did he do it?

Cuomo was able to effectively use the resources of the governor’s office that are at his disposal — being able to command an outsized amount of attention through travel, state largesse — and combine it with an effective campaign finance operation.

The result was a steady stream of paid and earned media that simply swamped the underfunded Astorino both over the airwaves, at the mailbox, and finally, at the ballot box.

For Cuomo, the victory tonight amid the shambles of the Democratic Party will likely be turned into validation of his governing philosophy: Left on social issues, a moderate-to-conservative approach on budgeting.

Cuomo believes most New Yorkers — at least 54 percent — are with him

With Republicans now fully in charge of the state Senate next year, Cuomo will be able to put that to the test yet again. Whether he can see his social measures approved — most notably a provision aimed at strengthening abortion rights — will be tested.

- Senate GOP

At the outset, things looked mighty bleak for Senate Republicans.

After all, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had finally come around to backing a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

Labor groups, which had traditionally hedged their bets in election cycles, appeared to be in full tilt favor of a full Democratic takeover.

But then things changed or, weirdly enough, stayed the same.

The rift between Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein and Democrats in the mainline conference never quite healed. As Klein relayed on Monday, mainline conference lawmakers continued to help primary challengers to the IDC, including Oliver Koppell, who unsuccessfully challenged Klein (The IDC also sent some money toward Betty Jean Grant, who was running a primary challenge against Sen. Tim Kennedy in Buffalo).

Republicans also recruited well, finding popular and well-known candidates to either hold or flip state Senate seats.

When Sen. George Maziarz announced he was running for re-election, Republicans turned to Rob Ortt, whose candidacy provided little drama. The same with Islip town Supervisor Tom Croci, who held the district vacated by now Rep.-elect Lee Zeldin.

Republicans also had some obvious pick up opportunities upstate, where Democratic freshman Ted O’Brien, Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson all went down in defeat last night.

The Senate GOP caught some breaks, too.

David Denenberg, who at one point was touted as a possible pickup opportunity for Democrats in the seat vacated last year by Republican Chuck Fuschillo on Long Island, was accused of fraud in a civil lawsuit brought by his law firm.

The result is a majority without Klein’s IDC. The Senate remains the last vestige of Republican power in deep blue New York. They live to fight for another cycle.

- Landlords and charter schools

Republicans also learned from Democrats in 2012.

That year, Senate Democratic candidates benefitted from well-run and wellf-unded independent expenditure campaigns from public financing advocates and the United Federation of Teachers.

The teachers union and Friends of Democracy was still around this year, but Republican backers brought firepower to the legislative races as well.

Supporters of charter schools, as well as wealthy New York City landlords, poured millions of dollars into the legislative campaigns.

Groups with names like Jobs For New York (backed by the Real Estate Board of New York) and New Yorkers For a Balanced Albany (backed by Paul Singer and StudentsFirstNY) dropped mail, TV ads and radio spots on Senate districts — ushering in a new age in which the independent expenditure committee on the state level is increasingly becoming a important and viable player in legislative races.

The spending comes as lawmakers next year decide a litany of major issues ranging from New York City mayoral control of schools to rent control regulations, both of which are due to expire.

- Western New York

The rest of the state’s political class is starting to catch on to just how fun — and weird — western New York politics can be.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recognized early on the importance of western New York, region of the state that doesn’t even really consider itself part of “upstate” New York necessarily.

Cuomo early on lavished attention on the area, seeking to invest state resources in private industry and becoming a backer of keeping the Buffalo Bills in western New York.

He picked former Rep. Kathy Hochul as his running mate in order to shore up ties there.

While Cuomo did not win all of the western New York counties he lost to Carl Paladino in 2010, he did pick up Erie County, winning 52 percent of the vote.

- Easy Being Green

The Green Party may have had the most successful night of all.

Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins marshaled liberal angst over Cuomo to win 173,510 votes, good enough for 5 percent of the total — a record total for the party.

The count, once verified, means the Green Party will likely move up some slots on the ballot to Row D, displacing the Working Families Party.

Hawkins did it through an effective campaign operation. He even has a former WFPer, Ursula Rozum, running his campaign.

For a party that only four years ago had to struggle to gain ballot access for the next election cycle, the Green Party has achieved a new level of permanency in state politics.

- The Indictment Crowd

What federal corruption charges?

Rather than receiving their walking papers, three lawmakers under indictment won their re-elections.

Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn and Tom Libous of Binghamton both won re-election despite their looming legal troubles.

On Staten Island, Rep. Michael Grimm easily defeating his opponent, Democrat Domenic Recchia.

The factors for why these three still have jobs are varied. And it should be noted that Sampson, Libous and Grimm all face vastly different legal cases being brought by the federal government.

But in the end, popularity and tenure trumped anything a federal prosecutor could charge these officials with, at least in the minds of voters.

Election Day Losers

From the Morning Memo:

- Senate Democrats.

This is an obvious one.

Though they talked a good game, the Democrats had a number of difficulties this election cycle – from a cash disadvantage to Cuomo’s obvious reluctance to make good on his pledge to help them re-take the majority.

Also a problem: The Republicans, generally speaking, fielded stronger candidates. Why the Democrats decided to run not one, but two challengers with election fraud convictions is anyone’s guess.

Of course, one of those two – Marc Panepinto – ended up being the lone bright spot of the night for the Democrats, winning the four-way 60th SD race in Buffalo.

Now it appears IDC Leader Jeff Klein is also hedging on his pre-election pledge to ditch his GOP power-sharing partners to form a new coalition with his erstwhile Democratic colleagues.

If the IDC doesn’t re-up their deal with the GOP it could be difficult for the Republicans to lead with such a slim margin in the chamber. Though it has been done before, and they are considerably more disciplined than their Democratic colleagues.

The Democrats and their allies are already looking ahead to 2016, when a presidential election will no doubt boost turnout to their advantage and perhaps put the majority in their hands once again.

It will be a long and potentially uncomfortable two years in the minority until then, however.

- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the “progressive” agenda.

The downstate mayor went all in to assist the Democrats in what we now know was a failed effort to re-take the Senate majority, believing that a change in leadership would give him a better shot at getting his progressive agenda passed in Albany.

Now, of course, de Blasio is going to have to contend with a GOP majority that used him as a foil in its upstate races, running ads that warned voters against restoring the NYC-dominated Democrats and their radical liberal friends to power.

Two big fights loom this year in Albany that concern de Blasio considerably: Mayoral control of the NYC school system and the NYC rent laws, both of which are set to expire in June.

Charter school interests that was to see de Blasio’s power over the school system weakened and real estate interests that want to see the status quo maintained in the rent laws spent big money to help the Senate Republicans and Cuomo in this election cycle.

The Senate GOP’s victory last night, coupled with de Blasio’s rocky relationship with the governor do not bode well for the mayor in the 2015 legislative session.

Things don’t look so good either for de Blasio’s left leaning allies – particularly the Working Families Party, though the labor-backed party did thwart Cuomo’s attempt to kill it by creating the Women’s Equality Party.

In his victory speech last night, Cuomo hit the high points of a progressive agenda – the DREAM Act, another minimum wage increase, public campaign financing, education reform, the Women’s Equality Act.

But none of those things – particularly not public financing and the full WEA (with the controversial abortion-rights plank) – are likely to fly with the Republicans in control of the Senate, giving Cuomo cover if he fails to deliver on his promises.

The lack of movement on progressive issues will no doubt give the left plenty of fodder for 2016. But again, that’s a long way off.

- Women and the pro-choice movement.

Women’s rights – particularly choice – were front and center in this election cycle, with both Cuomo and the Senate Democrats making them a hallmark of their respective campaigns.

The abortion rights issue also played a role in the state attorney general’s race, where Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman handily defeated his anti-choice Republican opponent, John Cahill.

But as long as the Republicans maintain control of the Senate majority, the likelihood of the governor’s full 10-point Women’s Equality Act making it to the floor for a vote is next to nil.

And though Cuomo appears to have succeeding in creating his Women’s Equality Party, his effort divided progressive women voters, many of whom didn’t see the need for a single issue party founded by a man.

The WEP’s achievement of ballot status is a political win for Cuomo, and also for former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has become the face of the new party and used it as her ticket back onto the public stage after she lost the 2013 NYC mayor’s race to de Blasio.

But all last night’s results really achieved is an assurance that the controversial and divisive issue of abortion rights sticks around for another two years, and likely becomes an issue in the 2016 fight for control of the Senate.

- NYSUT and other pro-Senate Democrat labor unions.

The statewide teachers union spent big money to assist the Democrats in their quest for power in the Senate, angering many people – including some Democrats – with its controversial mailer that featured a photo of a battered woman and the claim that Republicans wouldn’t protect domestic violence victims.

NYSUT did see one big win, thanks to Panepinto’s victory in the 60th SD. The union invested heavily in that race, even spending prior to the GOP primary in an (apparently successful) attempt to portray the Republican incumbent, Grisanti, as too liberal.

But generally speaking, NYSUT and the other unions that put their money into the Democrats’ failed effort to win the majority, came up short.

Needless to say, they’re not terribly happy with Cuomo, who they think failed to follow through on his WFP endorsement deal that included a pledge to help his fellow Democrats in their quest to win back the Senate.

But, in the case of NYSUT, the union and Cuomo already weren’t on the best of terms, leading the teachers to take a pass on endorsing him (or anyone else) in the governor’s race for the second election cycle in a row.

Cuomo’s pre-election comments that he plans to break what he views as the state’s “public monopoly” by pushing for even stronger teacher performance evaluations and continuing to champion charter schools did not bode well for NYSUT over the next four years.

It probably didn’t help matters that a number of local teachers unions backed Cuomo’s primary opponent, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, and then transferred their support to Hawkins after Teachout lost in September.

NYSUT and other unions did see two bright spots last night in the big re-election wins of the other two statewide Democratic contenders – Schneiderman and DiNapoli. Labor will no doubt continue to try to strengthen their relationships with the AG and state comptroller as they battle with the governor.

- NY-25 Rep. Lousie Slaughter.

We went into last night knowing that there would be at least one surprise, but this one really came out of left field.

Slaughter, an 85-year-old, 14-term Democrat, survived a tough challenge two years ago from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks in a re-drawn district that supposedly improved the GOP’s chances of ousting her.

After Slaughter survived that knock-down, drag-out race, insiders believed she would cruise to an easy victory this year over her little-known and under-funded GOP challenger, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini.

Boy, were they wrong.

Now just 605 votes separate Slaughter and Assini, with some 2,800 absentee votes yet to be counted. The congresswoman declared victory last night, insisting that she’s confidence the paper will fall her way. But Assini refused to concede.

There were supposed to be tight House and state Senate races that went into overtime last night, but this wasn’t one of them.

And other than NY-18, where Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has declared victory though his Republican opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth is refusing to concede, the NY-25 battle was really the only significant cliffhanger.

Here and Now

No public schedule yet from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At 8:30 a.m., the Association for a Better New York hosts panel on what election 2014 means for New York, Westin Grand Central Hotel, 212 East 42nd St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the PSC and US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hold a conference to discuss issues regarding the installed capacity market and energy infrastructure in New York; New York Institute of Technology Auditorium, 1871 Broadway, between 61st and 62nd streets, Manhattan.

At noon, NY-18 Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will discuss his “victory” against Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth, who has so far refused to concede though she’s trailing by 2,790 votes, Maloney Newburgh HQ, 320 Front St., Newburgh.

Also at noon, NY-19 Rep. Chris Gibson will host a media availability at his Hudson Street home in Kinderhook.

At 2:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., de Blasio holds a public hearing on five bills and then sign three of them into law, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3:45 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees meets, The SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the 2014 LatinoJustice PRDLEF Gala, Hilton New York, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won a second four-year term, defeating his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astotrino, 54-40.6, with the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, receiving close to 5 percent of the vote.

Cuomo easily won re-election, but with what appeared to be a considerably smaller majority than the 65 percent that his father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, got during his bid for a second term, in 1986. He enters the next four years with less political clout than when the campaign began.

Bill Hammond: “Having run a generally joyless campaign long on expensive attack ads and short on serious debate or fresh ideas, Cuomo retakes office without the clear mandate that the key to the success of his first term. Plus, he faces a Capitol teeming with bruised egos, nursed grudges and burned bridges — things Cuomo seems to accumulate more copiously than the average pol.”

The governor still has a problem on his left. Here’s the statement issued shortly after midnight by WFP State Director Bill Lipton:

“Governor Cuomo promised to take back the state Senate. Instead, he squandered millions on a fake party, and left millions more in his campaign account as New York Democrats in the legislature and in Congress withered on the vine. But he couldn’t sink WFP and we’re not going anywhere, except back to Albany to fight for working families. Our party is needed now more than ever.”

Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, now becomes the first lieutenant governor from Western New York since Stan Lundine who served under Gov. Mario Cuomo from 1987 to 1995. She becomes the first lieutenant governor from Buffalo since William F. Sheehan in 1892-94.

The Cuomo-Hochul ticket took Erie County, 52 to 43 percent, after 74 percent of the districts reported, just slightly less than the statewide margin. But Cuomo lost lost all other counties of Western New York, just as he did against Republican Carl P. Paladino four years ago.

Voter turnout appeared to hit an historic low of about 30 percent, but we won’t know the final number until all the votes are tallied.

During his concession speech, Astorino seemed to signal he’ll be back for another shot at the governor’s office in 2018. “We have planted a flag,” he said. “And we will be back to claim it, and advance it further.”

Of the many advantages Cuomo had enjoyed heading into his re-election campaign — the heavy Democratic enrollment edge in New York, the visible stage that incumbency provides — few have proved more important than his bank account. He had raised more than $45 million to Astorino’s $5 million as of last month.

Also re-elected – Democratic state AG Eric Schneiderman, who beat his GOP opponent, John Cahill, by 13 percentage points; and Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who had the evening’s largest margin of victory of a statewide candidate – 23 percent – over his challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

The Senate Republicans re-took a clean – albeit slim – 32-seat majority in the chamber, defeating all three of the upstate Democratic freshmen that had been their top targets in this election cycle.

The one bright spot of the evening for the Senate Democrats – Buffalo’s 60th SD, where Marc Panepinto won a four-way race, defeating Sen. Mark Grisanti, who had been trying to hold onto his seat running just on the Independence Party line after losing the September GOP primary.

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WFP And Cuomo: It’s Complicated

The Working Families Party blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement released after midnight, blaming him for the Democratic losses on the state and federal level in New York.

In particular, WFP Director Bill Lipton singled out the governor’s newly formed Women’s Equality Party as a “fake party” and knocked Cuomo for not spending more money to help Democrats retake full control of the state Senate.

“Governor Cuomo promised to take back the State Senate,” Lipton said in the statement. “Instead, he squandered millions on a fake party, and left millions more in his campaign account as New York Democrats in the legislature and in Congress withered on the vine. But he couldn’t sink WFP and we’re not going anywhere, except back to Albany to fight for working families. Our party is needed now more than ever.”

The surging Green Party, meanwhile, appears to have displaced the WFP from Row D.

Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins received 146,564 votes as of early Wednesday morning, with Cuomo receiving 94,593 on the WFP line.

The party was able to clear the 50,000-vote hurdle in to keep its ballot status.

But WFP officials were miffed as Cuomo sought to promote the Women’s Equality Party over their ballot line and sought to frame a vote for the governor on their line as sending him a message.

Cuomo was endorsed by the party in May after pledging to back a host of liberal measures ranging from the Dream Act, to the public financing of political campaigns.

Those measures appear to be in doubt next year with Republicans holding a clear majority in the state Senate.