Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks as supporters gather in Manhattan...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks as supporters gather in Manhattan after the polls close on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Progressive candidates took a drubbing nationwide this week, but their issues didn't do as badly as they did.

Consider these issues:

--Four states -- Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota -- adopted new minimum- wage laws.

--Oregon and Alaska have now joined Colorado and Washington state in legalizing recreational marijuana use.

--Colorado defeated a personhood amendment, which sought to legally define life as beginning at conception.

--Washington State approved a measure that requires background checks on gun show buyers and Internet sales.

--In Hawaii, three islands will cease cultivating genetically engineered sugar cane, coffee and pineapple until the crops are proven safe.

The nation's overall Republican rout was speckled with substantial victories for progressives, who have learned to rack up local successes when the path in Washington is too steep.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his win came in part because he restored New York "as the progressive capital of the nation." Yes, New York was one of the first states to pass tougher gun restrictions. But we were closer to the middle of the pack in permitting same-sex marriage and medical marijuana.

And the governor's list of progressive goals for his new term is now tougher to accomplish, as election season battered the Democratic left wing and consolidated Republican control of the State Senate.

Take the Women's Equality Act, for example. It's a 10-point plan that includes many decent and commonsense reforms such as strengthening laws that require equal pay for equal work, and outlawing housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence.

The Assembly and Senate in New York have wrangled over the abortion provision in the Women's Equality Act. The bill would either bring state law into line with Roe v. Wade or expand abortion rights -- its practical effect is open to interpretation. Senate Republicans have rejected the 10th point, and some women's rights groups refuse to carve it out from the legislative package, while others urge a compromise. Supporters should find a way to leverage the 50,876 votes cast Tuesday on the Women's Equality Party line.

Cuomo also is promising campaign finance reform -- something many voters support. But the first test of public financing -- the 2014 state comptroller's race -- was a bust. Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to a pilot program as part of the state budget deal. But the setup was so ungainly that the incumbent, Democrat Thomas DiNapoli, who has long supported changes to campaign finance, refused to participate.

His Republican challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci, signed up for public financing but never raised enough money to activate the 6-to-1 match of public funds. He needed $200,000 from 2,000 small donors.

What's more, one of the pilot's program's chief champions, the Working Families Party, suffered internal divisions this election season as factions fought over endorsing centrist Cuomo over more liberal Zephyr Teachout. The WFP is in no position to muster reform.

Cuomo also says he's behind the progressive goals of a minimum-wage increase and a state Dream Act, which would provide tuition assistance to college kids of immigrants here illegally. But without a strong left flank, and with Republicans emboldened, where will the momentum for either come from?

The end of this election season finds New York less the progressive capital of the nation and more entrenched in the middle.

Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion.

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