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Surveying New York's political landscape

CYRIL JOSH BARKER and STEPHON JOHNSON | 1/17/2013, 1:14 p.m.

While most political pundits have been focusing on the federal elections and whether or not the Democrats can retain both the House and the Senate, New York State politics are also heating up.

Statewide, there are battles for the governor's mansion, attorney general and state comptroller. And the Democrats would like to increase their slim, two-seat majority in the State Senate, and the Republicans want to take back the body they controlled for more than 40 years.

The stakes are high.

Election Day 2010 may shape the next decade-plus of city and state politics for better or worse. The AmNews highlighted some of the more important races and what they mean to our communities in New York City and throughout the state.

THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

The gloves have been thrown in the gubernatorial election between the Democratic and Independent Party candidate, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and the Republican candidate, former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio. Cuomo chose Rochester Mayor and former Police Chief Robert Duffy as his running mate for lieutenant governor, while Lazio has chosen Greg Edwards.

With hopes to follow his father, former Gov. Anthony Cuomo, polls indicate that Cuomo is beating all Republican challengers interested in running for the seat. Waiting until late May to make his announcement to run, Cuomo previously served as secretary of housing and urban development under former President Bill Clinton's administration. He ran unsuccessfully in 2002 against former State Comptroller Carl McCall.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron also plans to be on the governor's ballot for the fall under the Freedom Party banner.

New York County Leader Assemblyman Keith Wright said that Democrats are still cleaning up problems in the state after 12 years of Pataki rule and more than 40 years of Republican control of the Senate.

While jobs are at the top of the list for issues, affordable housing is also a top concern for Democrats living in New York County, according to Wright.

"People are not leaving the Democratic Party," he said. "People are angry at the BP oil spill, no jobs, education and college tuition. When people take out their frustration, they take it out on the people who are in charge."

As Gov. David Paterson leaves office and ends his tenure as New York State's first Black governor, Black voters are concerned about their issues being heard in Albany. Quietly, some Black elected officials are voicing their concern about whether a Cuomo administration will in fact be diverse if he is elected.

For many longtime political watchers, despite his rhetoric, Cuomo's father's administration was a disappointment to many African-Americans.

And there is the issue of the lack of Blacks running for statewide office in the Democratic Party in this year's election. Wright blames the lack of color on the failure of Blacks to step forward and run, rather than a lack of recruitment by Democratic Party officials.

He said, "In order to be a part of something, it's like the lottery. You have to be in it to win it."