New York voters have spoken, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains the most powerful man in New York politics.
The governor won a resounding victory over the actress and activist Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary, protected by a $31 million campaign war chest that helped clear the field of candidates who might have proven more formidable.
His pick for state attorney general, Letitia James, also won big, making it likely his third term will unfold without the inconvenience of someone more independent, like Ms. James’s opponent, Zephyr Teachout, examining his administration.
Yet there were also signs that change was finally knocking on Albany’s door.
Even though it was held, unusually, on a Thursday, more than twice as many people voted in this year’s Democratic primary than did four years ago, a sign of an energized electorate that could pay huge dividends for Democrats in November. If Ms. James wins in November, which is likely, she will become New York’s first black state attorney general and the first black woman to win statewide office.
Most exciting, reformers across New York City ousted entrenched incumbents in races for Democratic State Senate nominations, all but eliminating a once-powerful group who had formed a rogue alliance that handed power to Republican senators in exchange for perks, campaign cash and other benefits. Six of the eight former members of the alliance, known as the Independent Democratic Conference, were ousted.
The sweetest victory was Alessandra Biaggi’s hard-fought defeat of the former I.D.C. kingmaker Jeffrey Klein in a district straddling the Bronx and Westchester.
“We have now cut the head of the I.D.C. snake,” Ms. Biaggi, a former Cuomo administration official, told supporters at her raucous election party Thursday night.
Zellnor Myrie, a lawyer and community organizer who has fought hard for tenants’ rights, won in Brooklyn, unseating State Senator Jesse Hamilton, another former I.D.C. member.
Jessica Ramos, a labor organizer and former spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, beat State Senator Jose Peralta, also formerly of the I.D.C.
If Democrats can take control of the Senate in November, these reformists can help shape an agenda for Albany that would include legislation that many felt the I.D.C. allowed Republicans to block for years: college aid for immigrant “Dreamers,” the strengthening of reproductive rights for women and desperately needed protections for tenants in New York City.
The turnout itself may have been the most encouraging sign. Nearly 1.5 million Democrats voted Thursday, according to an analysis of Board of Elections data. While turnout should be much higher — just over one out of four registered Democrats voted yesterday — it is a solid step in the right direction.
As Shane Goldmacher, a politics reporter for The Times, noted on Twitter Thursday night, more people voted for Ms. Nixon this year than voted for Mr. Cuomo four years ago — even as Mr. Cuomo won roughly the same percentage of the overall vote as he did then.
Albany was never going to change overnight.
But thanks to reform-minded candidates willing to challenge powerful incumbents, and voters willing to show up to the polls to support them, New York is a little more democratic than it was yesterday. To keep the state moving forward, New Yorkers will have to vote in larger and larger numbers, for races from the governor’s office to the school board.
As Mr. Cuomo likes to say, “Excelsior.”