The story writes itself: Former New York governor Mario Cuomo, a towering figure in Empire State and Democratic politics for decades, dies hours after his son Andrew was sworn in for a second term as governor.
The death of Cuomo at age 82 is a national story, given his profile as a liberal standard bearer.
But to New Yorkers, the passing has extra significance because of the legacy that extends to the current occupant of the executive mansion in Albany. With the news breaking late on the New Year’s holiday, it’s likely that New York’s hyperactive news media will deliver non-stop coverage of the Cuomo dynasty, past and present, on Friday.
Cuomo’s five children also include TV journo Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s “New Day.”
Mario Cuomo served three terms as governor from 1983 to 1994. He became a national star in July 1984 after delivering a forceful keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that sparked more heat than presidential hopeful Walter Mondale.
Cuomo was known for his skill as a speaker and as a leader, but he famously resisted his party’s efforts to draft him for presidential runs in 1988 and 1992. He also was said to have turned down a spot on the Supreme Court in 1993 in order to run for a fourth term as New York governor, an election he lost.
Like his father before him, Andrew Cuomo is seen as a future Democratic presidential candidate. He noted his father’s absence because of ill health in his inaugural address on Thursday.
“He couldn’t be here physically today, my father,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Times. “But my father is in this room. He’s in the heart and mind of every person who’s here.”
President Obama hailed Mario Cuomo’s legacy as “a determined champion of progressive values” in a statement.
“An Italian Catholic kid from Queens, born to immigrant parents, Mario paired his faith in God and faith in America to live a life of public service – and we are all better for it. He rose to be chief executive of the state he loved, a determined champion of progressive values, and an unflinching voice for tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity. His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country’s success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Mario’s wife Matilda, his children, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Maria, Margaret, Madeline, and Chris, and his family, friends, and New Yorkers who loved him dearly.”
(Pictured: Andrew Cuomo and Mario Cuomo in November after Andrew Cuomo won re-election as governor of New York.)