MANHATTAN — Andrew Cuomo was declared the 56th governor of New York on Tuesday night, triumphing over Tea Party-backed Carl Paladino.
A beaming Cuomo took the stage about 11 p.m. with his mother, daughters, girlfriend and father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
"The mandate tonight is to clean up Albany and to have elected officials who represent the people of this state and not the special interests and not the lobbyists," Cuomo said in his acceptance speech.
"We are upstate and downstate but we are one state, because we are New York. Yes we are black and we are white and we are brown but we are one state, because we are New York," Cuomo said, showing enthusiasm rarely seen in previous speeches.
"Yes we are gay and we are straight but we are one state because we are New York!" he cried, as cheers and applause erupted at the Democrat's election night party at the Midtown Sheraton Hotel.
An ecstatic Gabe Foreman, 25, who lives in Brooklyn, was at the hotel to celebrate the Democrats' win.
"It's like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras and the the World Series all rolled into one!" said Foreman.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn praised Cuomo as someone who will defend New Yorkers' rights.
"You couldn't have brought us a better victory than Governor Andrew Cuomo," she said in front of a packed crowd waving Cuomo-Duffy signs.
Cuomo campaign staffers danced to the Black Eyed Peas in the crowded auditorium as NY1 aired Carl Paladino's concession speech silently on screens in the background.
"Oh! I'm so proud!" said an ecstatic Marilyn Thorton, 60, out of breath after the victory cheers. "This is a great victory!"
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Chuck Schumer reclaimed their seats about half an hour after the polls closed.
In New York's congressional races, Harlem's Rep. Charles Rangel won a 21st term in District 15, despite his upcoming House ethics trial. The Upper East Side's Rep. Carolyn Maloney was also reelected in District 14, as was the West Side and downtown's Rep. Jerrold Nadler in District 8.
The state races for attorney general and comptroller both landed in Democrats' hands, with State Sen. Eric Schneiderman beating Staten Island district attorney Dan Donovan, and incumbent Tom DiNapoli triumphing narrowly over Harry Wilson.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," a beaming Schumer said to a sea of smiling supporters. "Tonight New Yorkers, you have given me the opportunity — a sacred opportunity — to spend another six years fighting for you. I am honored and I am humbled."
Schumer went on to talk about the importance of job creation, access to education and getting the state's economy moving again.
"We will get our state moving in the right direction again," he promised. "The best is yet to come!"
The senator, speaking to reporters before the election was called in his favor over Republican Jay Townsend, said that he was not worried about whether he'd become House majority or minority leader because he was confident Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada would be reelected, which he was.
Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate two years ago by Gov. David Paterson, used her first acceptance speech to call for a new economic future for New York.
"We can lead a new economic revolution in high tech and bio tech energy. I want to see 'made in America' again right here in New York state," Gillibrand said.
She also highlighted the importance of civil rights, calling out the issues of marriage equality and Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Former comptroller Bill Thompson declared the day an "overwhelming victory" for Democrats as he stood at the podium before the Senate victors spoke.
"Let me say to all of you: job well done!"
Upper West Side resident Janet Wolf, 96, was thrilled to hear the state results.
"I'm hysterically happy," she said, smiling widely. "Everybody I have voted for has won."
But when she heard that the Democrats were projected to lose control of the House, her smile turned to anger.
"That's totally disgusting," she said, blaming former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and other Tea Party candidates for taking the country in the wrong direction.
Despite the projection that Republicans would win the majority in the House, few people were smiling at Carl Paladino's election night party in Buffalo.
As FOX's returns showing that Cuomo would triumph over Paladino flashed on a large screen in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo, there was an audible groan across the ballroom.
"I'm disappointed, I thought there would be a better showing," said Jim Donath, 57, from Boston, N.Y.
Ryan M., 24, said he wasn't "incredibly surprised."
"He could have run the campaign a little differently, but I still voted for him," the Buffalo resident said.
Meanwhile, Dave Calusvka, 39, who said he was dating Paladino's niece, appeared crushed by the news.
"I have to let it sink in," Calusvka said.
Paladino made his concession speech about 11:20 p.m. in downtown Buffalo.
"We're frustrated with big government, we're tired of our politicians spending like drunken sailors," Paladino said. "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."
"I promised to bring a baseball bat to Albany," Paladino continued, holding up a bat on stage. "Well, here it is...Make no mistake, you have not heard the last of Carl Paladino."
Paladino said he had put a call into Cuomo to offer him his best wishes.