Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo
Mario Cuomo
52nd Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1983 – December 31, 1994
Lieutenant Alfred DelBello (1983–1985)
Warren Anderson (1985–1986)
Stan Lundine (1987–1994)
Preceded by Hugh L. Carey
Succeeded by George E. Pataki
68th Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1982
Governor Hugh L. Carey
Preceded by Mary Anne Krupsak
Succeeded by Alfred DelBello
58th Secretary of State of New York
In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1978
Governor Hugh L. Carey
Preceded by John J. Ghezzi
Succeeded by Basil Paterson
Personal details
Born June 15, 1932 (1932-06-15) (age 79)
Queens, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Matilda Cuomo
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Mario Matthew Cuomo (pronounced /ˈkwoʊmoʊ/; born June 15, 1932) served as the 52nd Governor of New York from 1983 to 1994, and is the father of Andrew Cuomo, the current governor of New York.


Early life

He was born in the New York City borough of Queens to a family of Italian-American origin. His father, Andrea Cuomo, was from Nocera Superiore, Italy, and his mother Immacolata was from Tramonti. The family owned a store in South Jamaica, Queens in New York City. Cuomo attended P.S. 50 and later earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 and law degree in 1956 from St. John's University, graduating first in his class.[1] When he and the salutatorian (the late St. John's Law Dean Patrick Rohan) were summoned to the dean's office (Reverend Joseph T. Tinnelly) at the end of the year, he was asked what field he plans on going into after graduation.[citation needed] Cuomo responded that he would like to be a trial lawyer. Consequently, he was sent to clerk for the Honorable Judge Adrian P. Burke of the New York Court of Appeals.[2] Additionally, he was signed and played baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system until he was injured when a ball hit his head, and subsequently became a scout for the team.

Political career

He first became known in New York City in the late 1960s when he represented “The Corona Fighting 69,” a group of 69 homeowners from the Queens neighborhood of Corona, who were threatened with displacement by the city's plan to build a new high school. He later represented another Queens residents group, the Kew Gardens-Forest Hills Committee on Urban Scale, who opposed Samuel LeFrak's housing proposal adjacent to Willow Lake in Queens. In 1972, Cuomo became more well-known across and beyond New York City when Mayor John Lindsay appointed him to conduct an inquiry and mediate a dispute over low-income public housing slated for the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills. Cuomo described his experience in that dispute in the book Forest Hills Diary and the story was retold by sociologist Richard Sennett in The Fall of Public Man.

Governor Cuomo speaking at a rally in 1991

In 1974, he was the Democratic Party designee for Lieutenant Governor of New York but was defeated in the primary election by Mary Anne Krupsak. He was appointed Secretary of State of New York by Governor Hugh Carey in January 1975.

Cuomo was defeated by Ed Koch in the 1977 Democratic primary for the New York City mayoral election after being nominated by the Liberal Party. Cuomo was also defeated by Koch in the general election.

Cuomo was elected Lieutenant Governor with Governor Carey in 1978. He was elected Governor in 1982, defeating Koch in the 1982 Democratic primary and Republican businessman Lewis Lehrman in the general election. Cuomo was re-elected in 1986 and 1990 .

Cuomo gave the keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, and media reports speculated during several presidential election campaigns that he might run for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, but Cuomo always declined to run. Perhaps the closest he came to running was in 1992, when he kept an airplane waiting on the tarmac as he decided whether to fly to New Hampshire to enter that state's primary.[3] He was also spoken of as a candidate for nomination to the United States Supreme Court, but when President Bill Clinton was considering nominees during his first term to replace the retiring Byron White, Cuomo stated he was not interested in the office.[4] Because of Cuomo's refusal to take up the party's banner for national office despite his popularity within the liberal wing of the Democratic party during the 1980s and 1990s, his name has in some circles become a metaphor for a reluctant political leader, the "Hamlet on the Hudson".[5]

Mario Cuomo after a lecture at Baldwin-Wallace College, September 10, 2007

In 1994, Cuomo ran for a fourth term. In this election, Republicans attacked him for his opposition to the death penalty by highlighting the case of Arthur Shawcross (a multiple murderer convicted of manslaughter who was paroled from New York in 1987 and on release became a serial killer). Republicans were able to associate Shawcross with Cuomo much like Willie Horton with Michael Dukakis six years earlier.

Cuomo was defeated by George Pataki in the 1994 Republican landslide.

Political views

Cuomo is notable for his liberal political views, particularly his steadfast opposition to the death penalty, an opinion that was unpopular in New York during the high crime era of the 1980s and early '90s. While governor, he vetoed several bills that would have re-established capital punishment in New York State (the death penalty was in fact reinstated by Pataki the year after he defeated Cuomo in the 1994 election, although it was never put into effect and its statute declared unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in 2004).

Cuomo is pro-choice on abortion. In a speech at Notre Dame on Sept. 13, 1984, he used the statements of the American Catholic hierarchy to argue "that what is ideally desirable isn't always feasible, that there can be different political approaches to abortion besides unyielding adherence to an absolute prohibition."[6]

He has also been outspoken on what he perceives to be the unfair stereotyping of Italian-Americans. Cuomo also opposed the move of the National Football League's New York Giants and New York Jets to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, choosing instead to attend the home games of the Buffalo Bills while serving as governor, referring to the Bills as "New York State's only team."

Family and personal life

Cuomo is one of the first members of the Cuomo family to rise to a prominent position in the politics of the United States of America.

Cuomo has been married for more than fifty years to his wife Matilda. They have five adult children: Andrew, Maria, Margaret, Madeline, and Christopher.

His elder son, Andrew Cuomo, was married to Kerry Kennedy (divorced in 2003), a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel. He served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton from 1997–2001. In an attempt to succeed his father, he ran as Democratic candidate for New York Governor in 2002, but withdrew before the primary after criticizing Republican incumbent George Pataki's leadership after the terrorist attacks on the city on 9/11 the previous year. He remained on the ballot as Liberal Party candidate but did not campaign, instead endorsing Democratic nominee Carl McCall in the general election, and received only a very small percentage of the vote as Pataki was re-elected. In November 2006, Andrew Cuomo was elected New York State Attorney General, replacing Eliot Spitzer, who was elected Governor of New York. Andrew Cuomo was elected governor on November 2, 2010 and inaugurated on January 1, 2011.

Cuomo's younger son, Chris Cuomo, is a journalist on the ABC Network newsmagazine Primetime and anchors news segments and served as co-host on Good Morning America. He was picked as one of People Magazine's 50 Sexiest People in 1997.

His daughter Maria Cuomo Cole is married to Kenneth Cole, a well known New York fashion designer.

Cuomo is an avid player of fantasy baseball. He always has an Italian player on his team, regardless of how many Italian players are available or how well they are doing.[7]

Cuomo is the author of Why Lincoln Matters (2004) and sits on the Advisory Council of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

In 1996, he wrote Reason to Believe. He also wrote a narrative essay entitled "Achieving the American Dream" about his parents' struggles coming to America and how they prospered.

At its 1983 commencement ceremonies, Barnard College awarded Cuomo its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.

Cuomo is currently of counsel at the New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.[8]

Since 1996, Cuomo has served on the board of Medallion Financial Corp., a lender to purchasers of taxi medallions in leading cities across the U.S. He was named to the board through his personal and business relationship with Andrew M. Murstein, president of Medallion.[9]

Cuomo was the first guest on the long-running CNN talk show Larry King Live in 1985.[10]

See also

  • Bill Clinton Supreme Court candidates


  1. ^ Heard from Prof. Patrick Rohan; April 23, 2009
  2. ^ ibid.
  3. ^ Gitell, Sam. "New Hampshire Factor." New York Sun, 26 September 2006. Joe Klein's roman à clef Primary Colors depicts a fictionalized Cuomo's uncertainty on whether to run.
  4. ^ Sack, Kevin. "CUOMO ANNOUNCES HE IS NOT SEEKING SEAT ON HIGH COURT." The New York Times, April 8, 1993. George Stephanopoulos wrote in 1999 that Clinton came within 15 minutes of nominating Cuomo before the latter preemptively rejected the post.[1]
  5. ^ The Economist. "Mario Cuomo, Hamlet on the Hudson"
  6. ^ Mario Cuomo, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective: Remarks delivered at the University of Notre Dame"
  7. ^ Walker, Sam: "Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe" Viking, 2006
  8. ^
  9. ^ Medallion Financial Corp. annual report, 2010, p. 78
  10. ^;jsessionid=x694e74fftii?title=Final++Larry+King++Rules+the+Competition&page=

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John J. Ghezzi
Secretary of State of New York
1975 - 1978
Succeeded by
Basil Paterson
Preceded by
Mary Anne Krupsak
Lieutenant Governor of New York
1979 - 1982
Succeeded by
Alfred DelBello
Preceded by
Hugh L. Carey
Governor of New York
1983 - 1994
Succeeded by
George Pataki
Party political offices
Preceded by
Albert Blumenthal
Liberal Nominee for Mayor of New York City

Succeeded by
Mary Codd
Preceded by
Mo Udall
Keynote Speaker at the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Ann Richards

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