While it was too early at press time to say a historic “blue wave” did indeed sweep the nation two years into President Trump’s administration, New York state made history of its own during the midterm elections on Tuesday — and we’re not talking about the influx of malfunctioning ballot scanners and record turnout.
While nearly every elected office was up for reelection, the key midterm contests included governor, attorney general and the House of Representatives race in the 14th District, where political newbie Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez entered the national spotlight in June after challenging, and subsequently defeating, a 14-year incumbent in the Democratic primary.
Less than two minutes after polls closed at 9 p.m., The Associated Press declared incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo won a third term by easily defeating Republican challenger and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
“I will work every day to vindicate the confidence the people of New York has given to me,” a joyous Cuomo said in his victory speech. “Together we’re going to do even more. We all win bigger when we work together.”
Incumbent Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul was expected to defeat challenger Julie Killian, a former deputy mayor of Rye, New York, and her challenger for lieutenant governor.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James, who took an early lead over Manhattan lawyer Keith Wofford in the midterm election, was projected to notch another historic win by being elected as the state’s first black attorney general.
James first made history by becoming the first black woman to win a citywide election when she was elected to public advocate in 2013 and again in September when she defeated her Democratic challengers in the primary.
A special election for James’ vacant public advocate seat will take place within a few weeks of her Jan. 1 swearing in.
Though all 27 House of Representative seats were on the ballot, eyes have been on New York’s 14th Congressional district because of Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated 14-year incumbent Joe Crowley in the primary.
The 29-year-old Bronx native, who now represents parts of that borough and Queens, took a commanding lead over her Republican challenger, St. John’s economics and finance professor Anthony Pappas, and is now the youngest woman elected to Congress.
In the 11th Congressional District, Democrat Max Rose, another political newcomer, ousted Republican Dan Donovan, AP declared.
The upset came despite a last-ditch effort by President Trump to keep the only Republican congressman in his hometown. Trump recorded a taped message sent out to 55,000 New Yorkers urging them to vote for Donovan, the New York Post reported. The seat represents all of Staten Island and some of southwest Brooklyn.
2018 midterm elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes history
When political newbie Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated 14-year incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary in September, it was considered the “stunning upset” of the 2018 midterm election season as Crowley was the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House.
While this was her first run for office, Ocasio-Cortez’s previous experience in the political arena included organizing for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential run in 2016. She also worked for late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy while attending Boston University, where she earned degrees in economics and international relations.
Additionally, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an educational director with the National Hispanic Institute and headed initiatives for improving childhood literacy and writing in the Bronx.
Among her campain cornerstones were Medicare for all, abolishing ICE, an assault weapons ban, criminal justice reform, mobilizing against climate change and higher education/trade school for all.
At 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to be elected to Congress.