Gotham Gazette

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Gotham Votes 2013

Cuomo Wins Big With Casino Ballot Measure

Gov. Andrew Cuomo scored a huge victory at the polls on Tuesday — and his name wasn’t even on the ballot.

Cuomo may not have had his name on the ballot but a measure to allow casino gambling in the state, which was approved by voters with a margin of about 57 to 43, was largely the governor’s making. After all, he spent two years shepherding the bill through the state Legislature while his administration helped write the glowing language that voters read before filling in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ boxes on Election Day.

The measure was one of six on this year’s ballot, and probably the most politically contentious.

Many state lawmakers saw the measure as Cuomo’s “gamble” to boost the upstate economy as he heads into  an election year with his poll numbers flagging among key voters in the region.  

“Since taking office, my administration has focused on reviving the state's economy, and today's vote will further pave the way for the creation of new jobs, construction, and increased tourism in communities across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement. The measure was boosted by votes from downstate districts, including New York City and Long Island--upstaters who will play host to the first casinos were a bit more torn on gambling.

The only measures that failed out of the six that voters found on the back of their ballots was one that Cuomo opposed or at least waffled on — the proposition that would have extended the age to which state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices can serve. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who will soon be forced out of a job because of the constitutional retirement ceiling, campaigned for the measure.

The failed measure could have prevented Cuomo from getting to name the replacements of many of the state’s highest judges should he win a second term.

The tightest voting came on a measure that would see the state grant NYCO minerals land in its forest preserve so that it can be mined for valuable wollastonite. Environmental groups opposed the measure, saying it would set a terrible precedent for the state’s “forever wild” clause that forbids the sale, lease or taking of any land in the state’s forest preserves. Just before midnight the state board of elections showed the vote count at 53.3 percent for the measure.

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