You couldn't have done it without us

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 5:25 p.m.

Andrew Cuomo cruised to victory Tuesday as he beat back Republican challenger Carl Paladino 62 to 34 percent. Paladino imploded early on in the campaign with his temper and even showed up at his concession speech with a baseball bat in his hand looking as if he were ready to wield it at any time.

"I promised to bring a baseball bat to Albany. Well, here it is," Paladino said as he challenged Cuomo to grab the baseball bat or "have it wielded against you."

This page and most Black New Yorkers identified the craziness of Paladino. But Cuomo did not court the Black vote early on in this election. In fact, he only came to our communities at the 11th hour. He released his urban agenda after only intense prodding and only one week before the election. It was his plan to get the urban voter energized and out to the polls.

While there were strong elements within the urban agenda, we do not believe that it was the document alone that brought people to the polls. But Black and Brown folks did come out in force. In fact, our reporting showed that there were larger crowds at polling places than had been seen for a midterm election in years. So something clearly was happening.

What was it?

Was it simply the craziness of Carl Paladino? Or possibly was it the concern that our communities can't afford to lose anymore ground and the hope that four more years of Democrats in the governor's mansion may help right the ship of state that 12 years of pathetic Pataki rule ravaged on the state? It was clear to our folks that the last thing we needed to do is return to Republican rule in the executive branch.

For these reasons, we suspect Cuomo was able to draw 94 percent of the Black vote and 82 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool.

Interestingly, when it comes to white voters, the margin was much closer. In fact, Paladino was neck and neck with Cuomo. In fact, Paladino was strongest among uneducated white males. What were they thinking? Or perhaps they were not.

So what does this say about a Cuomo governorship? It says that he does have a mandate. He was elected with a great margin to this seat, but his strongest base is in communities of color.

Cuomo must look carefully at these results and know that he did not do this alone. Many Blacks went out on a limb to support him without the governor-elect having the kind of record that we know we can really depend on.

We still have concerns about his commitment to us and our interests. Cuomo did little to support the Democratic State Senate majority, and now that remains in question. He had $10 million left in his campaign war chest that could have been used to help counteract the dollars that Republicans raised from big business. Their support could not only mean a more successful governorship for him, but could mean more resources going to our communities, which a Republican majority would deny us.

He has four years to prove to us that he is worthy of this office. He has four years to show us that he will pattern his tenure on his own urban agenda and deliver for the inner cities and Black and Brown people who have overwhelmingly supported him. He has four years to create the most diverse governor's office, which he has promised to do. Let's hope he makes them count and, in the process, helps our communities thrive.