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Editorial: Election won, Gov. Cuomo faces serious challenges

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks as supporters gather

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

The exit polls and vote tallies told the tale of a fed up nation. We don't approve of our president or our Congress. In a backlash against President Barack Obama and the status quo, Republicans captured the U.S. Senate and Republican Lee Zeldin took incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop's House seat. It was an election in which most votes seemed to have been cast against an idea or person the voters despised, rather than for ones they admired. Republicans made stronger- than-expected gains in a midterm election. So where are we now?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo easily earned a second term by governing from the center. "We said we would not be pushed or pulled by the extreme forces on the left or the right," he said in his victory speech. The Republicans retook the State Senate and the Democrats kept dominance in the Assembly, making Cuomo's center the place to be.

Behind Cuomo lie four successful years that saw him bring competence, discipline, increased civil liberties and balanced budgets to the state. Before him lie significant challenges.

Fixing the infrastructure of New York will cost a fortune. New projects will cost even more. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority can come up with only half of the $32 billion it needs for crucial projects, such as the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. To find the rest of the money, Cuomo wants to bring public-private partnerships and entrepreneurial ways to the old-dog agency.

Meanwhile, schools need more help to improve, and Cuomo must live up to his promises to hold teachers accountable. He also has promised to pass the Dream Act to make college tuition assistance available to noncitizens brought to the United States at an early age. To keep those promises, he'll have to convince the Assembly and State Senate.

In Washington, can a GOP Congress and Barack Obama work together? Both parties must make their case for the White House in 2016. The people have spoken. They are exhausted and depressed. In Albany and Washington, for Democrats and Republicans, it's time for the winners to do the jobs voters have given them.