Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton routed her conservative Republican challenger Tuesday to win re-election — the latest milestone in a remarkable political ascent from first lady to freshman senator to the Democratic front-runner for the White House in 2008.

With 38 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, 70 percent to 28 percent.

Addressing supporters about an hour after the polls closed, Spencer said he had mounted his underdog effort "to serve my nation in a time of war, a very complex time, and to serve my fellow New Yorkers."

Spencer, who publicly criticized national Republicans for abandoning any effort to topple Clinton, blamed his defeat on lack of funds. "We didn't have the gunpowder, which was tens of millions of dollars to back up our message," Spencer said.

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