By JOHN MORRIS & JENNIFER SZULMAN
Turnout was expected to be low and apathy high on Tuesday as New Yorkers went to the polls to select a governor and other statewide and local offices in balloting that was marked by lack of suspense.
Both incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and challenger Rob Astorino continued throwing brickbats at each other as they both voted in separate locations in their home county of Westchester this morning.
Cuomo was accompanied by his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, and left his polling site in Mount Kisco smiling and confident about his own projected victory.
“I feel good about the direction the state is headed in,” Cuomo told reporters and supporters. “Four years ago the state was basically bankrupt and gridlocked,”
Challenger Astorino who has been the obvious underdog during the entire campaign echoed his platform to support lowering taxes in New York State, creating reforms for job growth and revitalizing the state’s stagnant economy.
Astorino repeated his attacks on his rival for ending Moreland Commission – an organization formed by Cuomo designed to investigate public corruption.
“If you’re sick of the corruption which is what we have with Andrew Cuomo, then you got to make a change. And change begins by changing governors,” Astorino said.
In the race for governor and other statewide and local offices, poll numbers have favored the Democratic incumbents. Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli led their opponents by double digits.
The lesser-known Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, emphasizes the importance of universal healthcare and increasing the living wage. Although Hawkins has struggled to gain momentum during his campaign, his campaign against fracking has won over some voters. Some liberal voters disappointed with Cuomo’s performance in his first term threatened to vote for the third party candidate as a protest against the governor, hoping to diminish his national standing.
“A lot of ignorant people don’t know about fracking,” said Claudia Bernstein, who planned to vote for Hawkins at P.S. 234 in Tribeca.
In other races, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is expected to hold onto his position in Albany against Republican competitor, John Cahill. Cahill, who served as Chief of Staff for former Governor George Pataki, spent most of his campaign criticizing his opponent for the large sum of donations he received from private firms. Cahill has also attacked Schneiderman for his alleged involvement in the stopping of the Moreland Commision investigations.
In the race for State Comptroller, Democratic Incumbent Tom DiNapoli maintained a two-digit lead against Republican opponent Bob Antonacci. DiNapolli also maintained a money lead in the race. The comptroller manages the New York State Pension Fund and oversees the retirement budget and state and city spending. Antonacci, the current Onondaga County Comptroller, has been critical of DiNapoli’s managing of the Pension Fund.
“Moving to defined contribution will put more and more New Yorkers at risk of not having adequate income in their golden years,” said Antonacci.
Another important local race pitted Republican congressman Michael Grimm against Democrat Domenic Recchia who hammered his opponent for being under indictment on 20 felony accounts of fraud and other crimes. Still, Grimm holds a 19 point lead in the polls for the district representing Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
The mood of local voters ranged from apathy to hope.
A Brooklyn resident voting at P.S. 152 in Flatbush said he voted only for Democrats but did not seem confident with the current state of the nation.
“I think the country is going in the wrong direction and the people who are running aren’t doing enough for us,” the man said. “But I’m a citizen and it’s my obligation and duty to vote,” the man said.
Other voters hoped for change.
Heather, a voter at P.S. 234 in Tribeca who declined to give her last name said Astorino had better policies of the state.
“There’s a great degree of political corruption,” Heather said. “We should have a different party.”
Many voters expressed worry about housing, education and Hispanic voters voiced concern about immigration.
“I always vote when I am in this country since 2008 when I became a citizen,” said Maria Arboledo, voting at P.S. 89 in Queens, a heavily Hispanic polling place.
Jose Peralta, on the ballot for the State Senate, came to the ballot box with his small son. “It’s all about bringing the resources to the community for a fair quality of life,” he said. On the duty to vote, he added, “This is a right that people had fought for and died for.”
Not all voters took the obligation as seriously. “I voted all write-ins,” said Reid Cooper. a poll worker. “There’s no one I felt deserved to be there.” He said he wrote in dead people and people who don’t exist “like Carl Winslow from ‘Family Matters.'”
Miguel Solorzano brought his 5-year-old daughter Andrea to the polling place. “I always try to influence my daughter to know that in our country we have the right to choose our representatives.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio voted in his home neighborhood of Park Slope. He told reporters, “Very important offices are being determined in this election. People in New York have to stand up and be accounted for and have their voices be heard.”
The Board of Elections announced that the voting went smoothly. However voters reported a few glitches. A resident of Flatbush complained that the writing on the ballots was too small. A married couple at the same location were turned away because workers could not find their names on the list. They said it was because they were Republicans.
With Sindy Nanclares, Megan Messana, Sandra Almonte, Desiree Jackson & Samairah Kahn