Mario Cuomo, who served as the governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, died Thursday, January 1, at the age of 82, of heart failure, according to UPI.com and other sources. Coincidentally, he passed away just six hours after his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in to serve his second term as governor of the state. He died in Manhattan, with his family there during his last moments.
President Obama called Andrew Cuomo to give him his condolences. In a written statement, Obama praised Cuomo for his consistently being a voice for “tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered flag in New York City to be flown at half-mast for 30 days to honor the former governor of New York. In the words of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Cuomo “was a strong, eloquent leader.” Reverend Al Sharpton remembered Cuomo as being New York politics’ “last liberal giant.”
Former Governor Mario Cuomo will go down in history as being one of the most influential and iconic governors of New York. His liberal viewpoints and eloquent speeches made him one of the most prominent Democrats of his era.
As his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in for his second term, he said that his father “couldn’t be here physically,” but he stated that his father was “in the heart and mind of every person who is here.”
In 1993, Cuomo became the first person to ever turn down the offer of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. According to former President Bill Clinton, in a speech he gave in 2012, Cuomo turned down the seat “because he was dedicated to New York.”
When Mario Cuomo first took office as the governor of New York in 1983, the state was going through difficult economic times. His efforts to limit spending helped steady the state’s finances and get it back on the right fiscal track.
During his tenure as New York’s governor, Mario Cuomo became a champion for the cause of the state’s poorer citizens, and worked towards increasing spending on health insurance for them. He also expanded programs for children and lead New York in the 1980s to becoming one of the nation’s first states to aggressively combat the AIDS epidemic. Cuomo also began the most extensive drug-treatment network in the United States.
Mario Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, was proud of his Italian heritage, and was the son of Italian immigrants. Before he became an attorney and rose to being elected the governor of the state, Cuomo worked in the grocery store his father owned in Queens.
Despite rising public support for the death penalty, Cuomo did not waver from his opposition to it. During his 12 years as the governor of New York, Cuomo repeatedly vetoed the measure whenever it crossed his desk.
Though former Governor Mario Cuomo personally opposed abortion, he took a pro-choice stance. putting him at odds with the position of the Catholic Church. He believed that states did not have the right to ban abortion, and stated during a speech in 1984 at Notre Dame that being pro-choice “should not be the exclusive litmus test of Catholic loyalty.”
In 1986, Mario, who later in life became known by some as “Super Mario,” won in a landslide,and was re-elected as the governor of New York City. He got the votes of 64 percent of New Yorkers, defeating Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke. He also handily won a third term, but was not successful when he attempted running a fourth time, when he was defeated by former Governor Pataki.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who died at the age of 82, is survived by his wife, Matilda Raffa, five children and 14 grandchildren. He was a liberal Democratic governor, one of the most influential politicians of his time. His policies and ideas are still being felt in the state he loved, carried on by his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Written By: Douglas Cobb