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Campaign Cash, Name Recognition Help Cuomo Trounce Molinaro For Third Term As Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro during their one debate last month on WCBS-TV. Photo Credit: @wcbs880
Julie Killian of Rye ran as lieutenant governor, balancing Marc Molinaro's ticket with a "downstate" woman, but failing to bolster the Republican team's statewide name recognition. Photo Credit: Contributed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle easily defeated Republican Marc Molinaro on Tuesday, according to unofficial returns from the state Board of Elections.

With 97 percent of the votes counted, Cuomo led by an unofficial 59 to 37 percent.

Cuomo benefitted from a huge campaign war chest, high name recognition and a very strong turnout of Democrats on Tuesday -- estimated as nearly double the turnout in 2014.

It will be Cuomo's third four-year term as governor, which in recent years was marred by a pay-to-play corruption scandal.

Although Molinaro said he did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race -- casting a write-in vote instead -- Cuomo repeatedly labeled Molinaro a "Trump Mini-Me." The label seemed to stick.

For the first time since he’s been governor, more voters now view Cuomo unfavorably, at 49 percent, than view him favorably, at 45 percent, down from 50 to 46 percent last month, according to this recent Siena Research Institute poll.

Molinaro, meanwhile, was largely unknown to nearly half the electorate, with a 29 to 25 percent favorability rating, compared to 24 to 20 percent last month, the poll found.

Molinaro's running-mate as lieutenant governor, Julie Killian of Rye, also was unknown to a majority of voters statewide.

In early attack ads, Molinaro tried to make the "corruption" label stick to Cuomo but only got traction in the final weeks of the campaign. The Republican also criticized Cuomo for ducking debate requests. The incumbent governor only agreed to one televised debate, which degraded into name-calling and finger-pointing.

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