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Mario Matthew Cuomo (born June 15, 1932) served as the 52nd Governor of New York from 1983 to 1994. Cuomo became nationally known for his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and the subsequent speculation over the next decade that he might run for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.

Early life

He was born in the New York Citymarker borough of Queensmarker to a family of Italian origin. His father, Andrea Cuomo, was from Nocera Inferioremarker, Italymarker, and his mother Immacolata was from Tramontimarker. The family owned a store in south Jamaica, Queens. Cuomo attended P.S. 50 and later earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 and law degree in 1956 from St. John's Universitymarker, graduating first in his class. When he and the salutatorian (recently retired Professor 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. 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 Appealsmarker. Additionally, he was signed and played 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 a household name in and around New York City in the late 1960s when he represented residents of Queens' Forest Hillsmarker section when they opposed the construction of a public-housing development in that neighborhood, which has a high per-capita income and is famous for being the site of the Forest Hills Tennis Center.

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. He also favored the prison industrial complex, building 18 private prisons in upstate New York.

Cuomo was defeated by Ed Koch in the 1977 Democratic primary for the New York City mayoral election, but was nevertheless nominated by the Liberal Party. On the Liberal ticket in the general election, Cuomo lost narrowly to Koch. Cuomo narrowly lost to Koch in the Democratic Primary in 1977, but was defeated by a wide margin in the 1977 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 Franciscomarker, 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 Hampshiremarker to enter that state's primary. He was also spoken of as a candidate for nomination to the United States Supreme Courtmarker, 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. 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".
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 that also unseated Texas Governor Ann Richards, and brought a Republican majority to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. (Cuomo and Richards appeared in a humorous television commercial for Doritos shortly afterward, in which they discussed the "sweeping changes" occurring. The changes they are discussing turn out to be the new Doritos packaging.)

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 Appealsmarker in 2004).

On abortion, Cuomo emphasizes his Catholicism as a basis for his personal opposition, yet is unwavering in his belief that every individual is entitled to judge how best to embody Catholic teaching in his or her political strategy. In a noteworthy speech at Notre Damemarker 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."

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 Rutherfordmarker, New Jerseymarker, choosing instead to attend the home games of the Buffalo Bills while serving as governor, referring to the Bills as "New York Statemarker's only team." Cuomo is a strong proponent of social welfare. He has acted as lawyer for progressive filmmaker Michael Moore.

Family and personal life

Cuomo's elder son, Andrew Cuomo, was married to Kerry Kennedy (divorced in 2003), the 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 making ill-advised criticisms of 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.

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

Cuomo's daughter, Maria Cuomo Cole, is married to Kenneth Cole, the famous 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.

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.

Barnard Collegemarker at its 1983 commencement ceremonies awarded Cuomo its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.

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

See also



References

  1. Audio recording and transcription of 1984 DNC speech
  2. Heard from Prof. Patrick Rohan; April 23, 2009
  3. ibid.
  4. 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.
  5. 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]
  6. The Economist. " Mario Cuomo, Hamlet on the Hudson"
  7. Mario Cuomo, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective: Remarks delivered at the University of Notre Dame"
  8. Walker, Sam: "Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe" Viking, 2006
  9. http://www.willkie.com/MarioCuomo


External links




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