Mario Cuomo’s death on New Year’s Day took some attention away, momentarily, from the greatness of this man, a progressive warrior in the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Hubert H. Humphrey, in a later generation, and with an ethnic tinge as with Fiorello LaGuardia!
Cuomo, an Italian American, was the first prominent white ethnic politician since LaGuardia to promote the liberal-progressive cause, and to be considered a serious Presidential candidate, other than John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, both Irish Catholic ethnics.
Cuomo spoke up for change and reform, at the height of the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, who worked to undermine the New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1980s.
Cuomo worked to ban assault weapons and promote gun control; worked for legal abortion rights to be upheld; promoted the first mandatory seat belt law in cars nationally; vetoed the death penalty; and reformed the state courts to promote diversity. He served longer in office than any New York Governor, except Nelson Rockefeller.
Cuomo stood up for the middle class, working people, women, and minorities, a battle which continues decades later, but was the focus of Cuomo, who would have made a great Supreme Court Justice or President. He was, himself, from a struggling immigrant family, and understood the plight of those of similar background.
It seems clear that had Cuomo sought the Presidency in 1992, we would not have had Bill Clinton as President, and there would be no Hillary Clinton being considered today for the Presidency.