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Race for governor enters final days

governorandrewcuomo and Ellen Abbott/WRVO
Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) is facing off against Republican Rob Astorino in tomorrow's election.

Election Day is Tuesday and the two major party candidates for governor held get out the vote rallies across the state over the weekend, as the contest comes down to whether supporters will turn out at the polls.

Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with a large lead in the polls, has nevertheless been pulling out all the stops to try to win over more voters.

Cuomo not only had Hillary, but also Bill Clinton appear at get out the vote rallies, met with Orthodox Jewish leaders, and sent emails to women voters touting his support for the Women’s Equality Act, an issue he has campaigned for in bus tours across the state.

In the final weeks of the race, the governor has spent from his hefty campaign war chest at the rate of nearly $500,000 a week on television advertising, some featuring his daughters and partner Sandra Lee, but much of it negative against his Republican opponent Rob Astorino.

Cuomo has portrayed Astorino as an ultra-conservative on social issues, like a woman’s right to choose abortion.

“Rob Astorino, not just wrong, dangerously wrong,” a narrator intones.

Astorino says while he is pro-life, he would not interfere with state laws that legalized abortion in 1970. The Republican challenger has kept up a traditional campaign schedule, appearing at several events a day. He’s charged that Cuomo badly fumbled his handling of an anti-corruption commission which is now under federal  investigation, and that the governor was too hasty in passing what Astorino says is flawed gun control legislation.  

Astorino, who is severely underfunded compared to Cuomo, has taken to robo-calling voters to try to counteract the negative image Cuomo’s ads created.

“This is Rob Astorino. The real Astorino, not the one Cuomo is spending millions to smear,” Astorino says in the recorded call.

There have been a number of skirmishes between the two major party candidates over various issues, but one of the key differences between the two major party candidates is their view of the state’s economy and its future.

Cuomo says New York has improved. He says it’s because of steps he’s taken as governor over the past four years to transform the state from a scandal-scarred punch line on late night TV.

“Taxes were out of control, business were leaving the state and we have turned that around,” says Cuomo, who says he got budgets passed on time four years in a row and created 500,000 new jobs. "And we reduced taxes."

Astorino says Cuomo’s claims of success ring hollow. He says many regions of the state remain mired in economic depression, and he mocks Cuomo’s plan to offer some new businesses ten tax-free years in New York as a gimmick. He says taxes are still among the highest in America.

“Nobody’s taxes have gone down under Andrew Cuomo, that’s a farce,” said Astorino, who also says people are leaving the state in record numbers. "Andrew Cuomo has failed us."

Some major newspapers have now endorsed Cuomo for reelection, saying while he has some flaws in his record and has not adequately cleaned up Albany, he is likely to be better at managing the state over the next four years.

Astorino says polls showing Cuomo far ahead are inaccurate. He says he was behind in the Westchester county executive’s race, running as a Republican in a Democratic county, and he won twice.   

The governor’s race also includes Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who is running better than in 2010, perhaps capitalizing on discontent with Cuomo from the left in the Democratic Party. Libertarian Michael McDermott is also running.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.