“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.
When Mario Cuomo was hospitalized in late 2014 with a heart condition, a spokesman said he was “in good spirits,” and CNN’s Chris Cuomo — the former governor’s other son — tweeted that his father was “doing well enough.” (In addition to Andrew and Chris, Mario Cuomo had three daughters — Maria, Margaret and Madeline.)
First elected to the post in 1982, Cuomo served three terms as governor of the Empire State, making him the longest-serving Democratic governor in state history.
Cuomo was born in 1932 in Queens, New York, the youngest of three children. Both his parents were of Italian descent: His father, Andrea, was born in Brooklyn, but his family returned to Nocera Superiore, Italy, shortly after his birth. Cuomo’s mother, Immaculata, grew up in nearby Tramonti, Italy. The couple married in 1925 and moved to the United States soon after. (Andrea made the trip over before his wife joined him.) The Cuomos ran a small grocery store in Jamaica, Queens.
One of Cuomo’s most liberal positions — his opposition to the death penalty — became a central issue in his 1994 re-election campaign. For the first time since 1982, Cuomo found himself facing a formidable opponent in the race for the governorship. Republican state Sen. George Pataki, initially considered an underdog with little statewide name recognition, steadily closed in on Cuomo as the campaign wore on. Pataki focused his campaign on two key issues: tax cuts and restoring the death penalty. The latter may have been critical to Pataki’s ultimate, albeit narrow, victory over Cuomo: as The New York Times reported after the election, 60 percent of voters said they supported restoring capital punishment. Those voters went 2-to-1 in favor of Pataki.
After his defeat, Cuomo returned to private practice, this time at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, a New York City-based firm. He continued to give speeches on public affairs. Cuomo returned to the political world when his eldest son, Andrew, ran for governor, and began to fan the flames of his son’s presidential aspirations before he even took office.