The Associated Press is calling the race for Cuomo based on interviews with voters as they left the polls statewide Tuesday.
Cuomo is a one-term state attorney general and the son of three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo. He promises to clean up Albany's notorious ethical lapses and control its overspending and some of the nation's highest property taxes.
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Cuomo sought to show he was a unifying force for New Yorkers while he said Paladino sought to divide the state geographically and along racial and gender lines.
He won the office his father held from 1983 to 1994, emerging as a presidential contender and a Democratic Party icon.
Cuomo's supporters already are saying he's presidential material.