Ms. James’s rivals repeatedly attacked her relationship with Mr. Cuomo and questioned her ability to be independent, especially given the spate of corruption convictions in Albany, includingtwo high-ranking aides to Mr. Cuomo.
Ms. James also committed a few gaffes, or miscalculations, along the way. She told The New York Times that it was “critically important that I not be known as the Sheriff on Wall Street,” — a nickname earned by Eliot L. Spitzer for prosecuting financial fraud, which is seen as a critical function of the New York attorney general given that the Trump administration has made deregulation a priority.
Ms. James also defended Mr. Cuomo from remarks that some considered sexist.
Ms. Teachout, who surprised Mr. Cuomo in 2014 when she received 34 percent of the vote in a campaign without much money, used Ms. James’s decision to not seek the W.F.P. line to stake out her role as an independent. She highlighted her professional experience writing about corruption and proposing legal strategies to fight Mr. Trump. She joined with Ms. Nixon and Jumaane Williams to form a ticket they believed was based on insurgency.
By the last debate, it was clear that Ms. Teachout was surging as shecame under attackby her opponents for saying that she doesn’t accept donations from Wall Street firms, corporate political action committees or limited liability corporations when she does take money from individuals in those fields.
Ms. Teachout was also criticized for just recently joining the New York State bar; being reprimanded by the North Carolina bar for moving out of state while handling a death penalty case and growing up on a farm in Vermont — with critics implying that she was out of touch with New York.
At the same time, Mr. Maloney, relying on $3.1 million that he had raised forhis congressional race, began spending on advertisements that focused on his being the state’s first openly gay congressman and raising three minority children with his husband.
Sensing a threat, the W.F.P. launched the largest amount of ad spending on the race by a party other than the candidate’s campaign, spending more than $250,000 on digital ads on Facebook, Pandora and Spotify, a half-million robocalls and over 200,000 texts to highlight Maloney’s voting record on legislation about bank deregulation and highlighting that he voted against President Barack Obama dozens of times.
Ms. Eve, in spite of her strong credentials as a former adviser to Mr. Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, and the name recognition associated with her father, Arthur O. Eve, a longtime Buffalo assemblyman, never gained traction with voters.