Mario Cuomo, who served three terms as governor, making him the longest serving Democratic governor in New York State history, has died at age 82. Cuomo, father of current governor Andrew Cuomo, died at home "surrounded by family" in New York City.
Cuomo died just six hours after his son Andrew was formally sworn in to a second term as governor of the Empire State. Cuomo's swearing-in was initially set to take place in Albany, but the governor relocated the ceremony at the last minute so he could spend New Year's Eve with his father, according to Newsday.
"He couldn't be here physically today ... but my father is in this room," Andrew Cuomo said in his inaugural address Thursday, according to the New York Daily News.
"He's in the heart and mind of every person who is here. His inspiration and his legacy and his spirit is what has brought this day to this point," Cuomo added.
Cuomo ran for Lt Governor in 1974, losing to state Senator Mary Anne Krupsak but was soon appointed Secretary of State by Governor Hugh Carey. He ran for mayor of New York City in 1977 in what was one of the most insane and nasty elections in the city's history. That year's Democratic primary pitted Cuomo against eventual winner Ed Koch. That was the year that the infamous "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo," a reference to Koch's sexuality, signs appeared all over New York City.
Cuomo ran again for Lt Gov in 1978 and won. In 1982, Cuomo ran against his old nemesis Koch in the Democratic primary for governor and won. He would serve three times while governing as what he called a "progressive pragmatist."
Cuomo narrowly lost his race for a fourth term to Republican George Pataki, who pounded him relentlessly over his anti death penalty stance.
In many ways, Mario Cuomo became the voice and face of liberalism in the age of Ronald Reagan. This perception was greatly bolstered by his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans — The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. "The strong" — "The strong," they tell us, "will inherit the land."
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America. For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman echoed many New York politicians when he said in a statement earlier this evening that "I would not be involved in New York politics were it not for Mario Cuomo."
I'll have much more soon on the passing of Mario Cuomo.
Godspeed, Mr. Governor.
(image via Wikipedia)