New York, state, United States: New York since 1912

New York since 1912

The Democrats returned to power in the state in 1912, and subsequently New York seesawed from one party to the other. The reform programs continued to gain ground, however, and Democratic state administrations between World War I and II—those of Alfred E. Smith (1918–20, 1922–28), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1928–32), and Herbert H. Lehman (1932–42)—presided over a wide variety of reform measures. The reform programs emphasized public works, conservation, reorganization of state finances, social welfare, and extensive labor laws. Four years after Smith's defeat in the 1928 presidential election, Roosevelt went to the White House. Lehman followed Roosevelt's national New Deal program by instituting the Little New Deal in New York state. At the same time Fiorello LaGuardia, Republican mayor of New York City (1934–45), enthusiastically supported Roosevelt's social and economic reforms.

The Republican party returned to power in the state in 1942 with the election of Thomas E. Dewey as governor (reelected 1946, 1950). Dewey had the immense task of coordinating state activities with national efforts in World War II, straining New York's resources to the utmost. He also built upon the reforms of his predecessors, extending social and antidiscrimination legislation, and won a reputation for effectiveness that made him twice (1944 and 1948) the Republican presidential nominee.

During the governorship (1959–73) of Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, state social-welfare programs and the State Univ. of New York were expanded, and a large state office and cultural complex was built in Albany. New York's growth slowed from the 1970s, though, as the state lost its dominant position in U.S. manufacturing, and the older cities lost businesses and residents to suburbs or to other states.

In 1974, the Democrats retook the governorship, holding it for 20 years under the administrations of Hugh Careyand Mario Cuomo. In his two terms (1975-1982), Carey was able to reduce the state's debt and saved New York City from bankruptcy. Mario Cuomo (1983-1994) pursued more liberal policies while still trying to keep the state's budget in control. In 1995, Centrist Republican George Pataki took over, serving for three terms through 2006. He was briefly replaced by former Attorney General Democrat Elliot Spitzer (2007-08), who left office amidst a sex scandal, and was replaced by his lieutenant governor, David Paterson, the first African-American to hold the office (2008-10). In 2011, Andrew Cuomo was elected governor, serving for almost three terms before resigning in disgrace amidst allegations of sexual harassment and creating a negative work environment in 2021. Cuomo was an activist governor supporting progressive policies, but his failure to court support among other state Democratic officials ultimately cost him his position. He was succeeded by his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, who is serving the balance of his term.

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